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following work aims at ascertaining the meaning which 
a certain section of Old Testament prophecy must have had 
for its first hearers and readers. The tendency of Christians has 
ever been to read the New Testament into the Old. However 
natural this tendency may be, it is not without injurious effects 
on the intelligent study of Scripture. Under its influence the 
difference between the two dispensations is overlooked ; type and 
antitype, promise and fulfilment, childhood and maturity are con- 
founded; ancient believers are credited with knowledge and 
ideas which go far beyond their circumstances ; a weight of 
meaning is put upon Old Testament passages which they are too 
weak to bear. Evidently our first effort should be to ascertain 
what the earlier Scriptures meant in the age to which they 
spoke ; and this is what Dr. Orelli tries to do in the present 
volume. While doing ample justice to the Christian fulfilment, 
he first considers every prophecy of the divine kingdom in its 
relation to speaker, hearers, and the general historical circum- 
stances out of which it arose. The student is placed at the Old 
Testament standpoint, as far as this is possible to us. We need 
not fear the results of such an investigation. Even granting that 
on single points the author may have gone too far, and that 
some details of his exposition cannot be regarded as fully 



established, enough remains to demonstrate the divinity of Old 
and New Testament alike. Prophecy and fulfilment correspond 
as bud to flower. Neither is intelligible without the other. It 
is refreshing to note the energy with which the author, who 
certainly cannot be charged with ignorance or prejudice, main- 
tains at his special standpoint the miraculous element in 
prophecy. In this respect the new method of interpretation is 
far preferable to the old. We do not need to read Christian 
ideas into prophecy in order then to bring them out again. 
Eeduce the teaching of prophecy to its most literal form, and 
yet the image of the future undeniably shines through it. The 
unity of subject pervading the whole from first to last, the 
uninterrupted progress both in the form and matter of revela- 
tion, the correspondence between prophecy and fulfilment, are 
evidences of divinity which nothing can explain away. 

I thought at one time of retaining the author's spelling of 
Jewish proper names. I found, however, that to do this con- 
sistently would give the pages a very repulsive look, at least to 
English readers, and the compensation would not be great. 
" Yahveh " is the only exception. This more accurate form of 
the word has now become tolerably familiar. 

I only wish to note further that the term " authorities " is used 
in Part I. for the German Quellen (sources), to denote the original 
documents on which the early books of the Old Testament are 
supposed to have been based. Perhaps a better English term 
might have been found. 





1. Biblical Prophecy, 4 

2. Are Phenomena analogous to Biblical Prophecy found in Heathenism ? . 13 

3. The Kingdom of God as the Subject of Biblical Prophecy, ... 25 

4. Influence of the Age on the Prophecy of God's Kingdom, ... 31 

5. The Office of Type in the Development of God's Kingdom, . . . 37 

6. Are Phenomena analogous to the Prophecy of God's Kingdom found 

in Heathenism ? 41 

7. Fulfilment in general, 50 

8. Fulfilment in the New Covenant, 54 

9. The Treatment of the Subject in Christian Theology 62 




10. General View, 77 

11. The Primitive Divine Capacity and Destiny of Man, .... 82 

12. Man's Common State of Sin (the Protevangelium), .... 86 

13. The Threefold Development of Mankind, 93 

14. The Promises to the Fathers of the Covenant People, .... 104 

15. The Leading Tribe, Judah, . . 115 


16. The Law of Moses, 125 

17. Mosaic Outlooks, 130 

18. Balaam's Oracles, 134 


19. The Prophetic Testament to the Davidic Royal House, . . . .148 

20. The Echo of the Prophetic Word in the Songs of the Anointed One, . 158 

21. Typical Significance of David, Solomon, and the Davidites, . . . 167 

22. The Dwelling of Yahveh on Zion, 186 







23. General Character of Prophecy in the Pre-Exilian Period, . . .191 

24. Obadiah 196 

25. Joel 204 



26. Amos, 224 

27. Hosea 228 

28. Zechariah ix.-xi 244 



29. Isaiah and Micah : The exalted Zion 255 

30. Isaiah's Oracles of Immanuel, 264 

31. Further Omcles of Isaiah respecting Zion (chaps, xxviii.-xxxix.), . 285 

32. Isaiah's Visions respecting the Gentiles and the World Judgment, as well 

as the glorifying of the World from Zion, 295 

33. Micah, Nahum, 305 


34. Zephaniah, 314 

35. Habakkuk, 323 

36. Jeremiah's Prophecies of the New Covenant, 329 

37. Zechariah xiL-xiv 345 


38. Ezekiel's Oracles and Visions, 361 

39. The Prophecies of the Servant of Yahveh, Isa. xl.-lxvi., . . .376 


40. Haggai and Zechariah, 419 

41. Zechariah's Visions, 426 

42. Malachi's Sayings respecting the Herald of the Lord, .... 447 

43. Daniel's Apocalypse, 454 




IN the whole of creation there dwells a profound longing after 
perfection, a noble instinct for completeness. By degrees 
nature has brought forth more and more perfect creatures upon 
earth. In considering the structures of past aeons, when man as I 
yet was not, we seem to see the creative spirit struggling after! 
something perfect, without reaching it. And where the formative 
force has spent itself for a time, and the contradiction between the 
imperfection of existence and the perfect idea makes itself felt, 
the instinct for completion changes into longing for redemption. 
Whoever is able to catch the innermost tones vibrating through 
nature hears issuing from it sad, yearning voices, beseeching 
redemption from the burden of imperfection a sighing of the 
creature, as the apostle calls it, more plainly in the plant-world 
than in inorganic nature, more audibly in the animal kingdom 
than in the plant-world. 

Man, then, as the most perfect creature of earth, feels all the 
more powerfully the instinct for completion. The desire for i 
likeness to God grows stronger in him, the nearer he stands to 
God, the nobler he is. This instinct is a mighty factor in history, 
impelling to the creation of new forms, when things are ripe for 
further advance. Although the passion for innovation is a morbid 
excrescence, it is still the caricature of something noble and divine 
in man ; it testifies to a striving after completeness that is never 
satisfied. And when all the lauded, hardly- won steps in advance 
bring one no nearer to the goal, which rather seems to recede farther 
and farther away, the yearning after a better world arises among 
all uncorrupted peoples. Among many this yearning takes the 
form of lamentation over a far-distant happy past. Presages of 
the future also are heard, as if there were a golden age to come. 



But as nations grow more rational and mature, such dreams are 
given up, and the completion which life fails to supply is sought 
in the region of art and idea. That both are powerless to satisfy 
the inmost craving of man's heart was confessed reluctantly by 
Goethe, the last of the Hellenes, who, if any one could, would 
have reconciled the contradictions of life by harmony of form. 
After he, in his masterwork, had pictured, but not really healed, 
the anguish of the human spirit in its utter impotence to com- 
pass perfection, the antagonisms became still fiercer, the discords 
more painful. Sorrow for the imperfection of existence is felt all 
the more keenly when the hope that has been placed in advancing 
culture turns out on the whole illusory in every field. Twenty 
years ago liberalism preached on every house-top its favourite 
dogma, man's capacity for eternal progress. To-day in the most 
advanced circles this is looked down on with scorn. An actual 
progress of real value is no longer believed in. The pessimism 
which in our days has gained so large a following, learned and 
unlearned, is itself a witness to the imperfection under which 
man groans. It yearns for release from the ban, without believing 
in a future consummation. Instead of redemption, nothing but a 
dissolution of existence will satisfy it, so strongly does it feel its 
burden. This, then, is the end of modern intellectual progress, as 
it was the end of ancient heathenism, even of buoyant-spirited, 
idealistic Hellenism an unsatisfied turning away from the world 
with nothing to take its place, despair of reaching the ideal w r hich 
man instinctively cherishes as his best possession. Are we 
nowhere to find any solution but this despair, which cuts the knot 
of fate and at the same time the sacred life-thread of humanity ? 

One nation in the human family felt this drawing to perfection, 
to God-likeness, in a peculiarly powerful way, the nation of 
Israel, to which the true God revealed Himself. In the revela- 
tion of this God the goal of its effort stood clearly before its eyes 
to be holy like God, to keep His commandments perfectly, and 
thus to be made partaker of the highest good perfect peace. 
That the perfection, for which man's soul thirsts, has complete 
subjection to the holy God for its indispensable condition, and 
fellowship with Him for its essential contents, dominion over 
creation being the natural consequence, the knowledge of this 
truth distinguished Israel from all nations of antiquity, and was 
not so much a fruit of its own musing and reflection as rather the 


result of the miraculous converse this nation had with its God, and of 
the legal discipline to which God subjected it above all other nations. 

But while this nation was chosen before others to experience 
the blessing of the divine rule, it was also compelled to look 
deeper than any other into the abyss separating sinful man from 
the holy God. The divine law that privilege of Israel was 
also a thorn in its flesh. In the light of revelation it saw human 
imperfection in all its depth to be sin, sin in all its gravity to be 
deadly guilt, and all unhappiness in the creature to be punishment. 
Hence a yearning for redemption, for a complete transforming of 
humanity in God's service and of all creation, goes hand in hand 
with a desire for the establishing of the divine rule. The con- 
viction is more and more definitely expressed, that no simple 
improvement of the existing can lead to perfection, but a total 
change must take place, a new creative act of God. 

But what we find in Israel is more than a deep, holy longing 
for completion and redemption. It is the actual certainty that 
both will be realized. As the law presents itself to the nation 
with sovereign independence as God's demand, so the nation 
receives prophecy as a positive pledge, which with the seal of the 
divine veracity stands secure above the vacillation of ages and 
nations and the vicissitudes of circumstance. The prophecies 
are not ideals, such as men fashion for themselves to strive 
after but can never reach ; they are ideas which God purposed 
to Himself to realize. What is it that gives us a right, nay, 
compels us, to assert the divine reality of these words of the 
future ? The answer is simple. 

In one man the perfection which prophecy sets before us has 
been actually realized, in a Son of man, who was also Son of God. 
Through Him also the felt need of reconciliation with God has 
found its full satisfaction. In these marvellous facts \ve have 
security that the divine rule thus founded will spread over the 
earth and thoroughly permeate the world, that through it redemp- 
tion from evil, inward and outward, will be perfected, as 
announced already by the prophecies of the Old Covenant. Thus 
the sacred voices of the prophets are an answer, not merely to 5 .' 
the inquiry of their people and age, but also to the noblest seek- 
ing and searching of man's heart, to the longing and sighing of 
the whole creation. They point to Christ, and proclaim to the 
world to-day what it may find in Him. They remind the Chris- 


tian how wondrously in the long period of waiting the morning 
stars bore witness to the coming sun, until at last it rose. But they 
also point him beyond our days to the days of the consummation 
of that kingdom of God, to behold which is our deepest longing. 

Let us then, before bringing forward these prophetic oracles of 
the Old Testament, take account of the source from which they 
spring, the peculiarity of nature and contents distinguishing them 
(in contrast with everything of a like kind presented by the extra- 
Israelitish world), of their fulfilment already accomplished or still 
future, and of the different attitudes which the Church and theology 
of Christian times have assumed to them and their fulfilment. 

1. Biblical Prophecy. 1 

Prophecy is the product of prophesying. In answering the 
question, What is to be understood by it on Biblical ground ? we 
start from the definite, uniform statements of the Bible. Accord- 
ing to these, prophesying is in general the speaking of individuals 
under the influence of the Spirit of God. And by the Divine 
Spirit we do not understand the general potency of life dwelling 
in all men and giving breath to living beings generally, 2 but the 
supramundaue Spirit of God, who only comes on man exceptionally 
to qualify him for work beyond his natural powers, and only 
settles in permanence upon him extraordinarily, and, moreover, is 
clearly distinguished from man's natural life-spirit (note A). 

In accordance with the free working of this Divine Spirit, pro- 
phecy is not bound to office and order. Even those who were 
not organs of God by their life-calling might be seized momen- 
tarily by Him, obtain glimpses into hidden things, and under the 

1 Cf . with this section especially : A. Knobel, Der Prophetismus der Hebrder, 
1837. Fr. Koster, Die Propheten des A. und N. T., 1838. Redslob, Der Begri/ 
des Nabi, 1839. Hengstenberg, Christology of the Old Testament, vol. iv. p. 396. 
A. Tholuck, Die Propheten des alten Bundes, 1860. H. Ewald, Die Propheten des 
alien Bundes, 2nd ed. Bd. i. 1867. A. Dillmann, art. " Propheten," in Schenkel's 
Bibellexicon, 1872. G. F. Oehler, Theology of the Old Testament, 1873 (T. & T. 
Clark) ; cf. his art. " Prophetenthum," in Herzog's R.-E. H. Schultz, Alttesta- 
mentliche Theologie, 2nd ed. 1878, p. 187 if. F. Hitzig, Biblische Theologle des 
A. T. und messianischeWeissagungen, herausg. von Kneucker, 1880 (cf. also Hitzig's 
Commentar zu Jesaja, the Introduction). Kleinert, art. "Prophet," in Riehm's 
Handworterluch des biblischen Alterthums, 1880. 

* Isa. xlii. 5 ; Job xxxiii. 4, xxxiv. 14 f. ; Ps. civ. 29 f. ; cf. Gen. ii. 7 ; Xura. 
xvi. 22, xxvii. 16. 


impulse of the same Spirit publish what they saw. In Genesis, 
for example, such illuminations are related of the patriarchs, 
especially before death. Prophetic words were uttered by 
Balaam the heathen seer, by David the king, and in the New 
Testament by Caiaphas the high priest. On the other hand, the 
Old Testament prophecies come as a rule from the lips of those 
who enjoyed in abiding converse with the Lord the gift of the 
prophetic spirit more frequently and served as His standing 
instruments. 1 Still they clearly distinguished their natural sub- 
jectivity from revelation, and even as to time believed they heard 
the word of the Lord and were empowered to speak in His name 
only in stated hours. 

The work of the prophet in prophesying is twofold, as is 
expressed by his two most common appellations. He is called 
n&p (seer), 2 and N 11 ^ (speaker^) (note B). The first name implies 
the receptive, the second the productive side of his attitude. 

On the former point Isidorus Hispal. (Etymol. viii. 1) says 
not amiss : " Qui a nobis prophetae, in V. T. videntes appellantur, 
quia videbant ea quae ceteri non videbant et prsespiciebant quae 
in mysterio abscondita erant." Their endowment consists chiefly 
in an extraordinary heightening of the perceptive faculty. 
Whether the sensuous organs are or are not concerned in this is 
primarily indifferent. But the essential element to be maintained 
in prophecy 3 is, that it sees its contents before announcing them, 
although as to time the two acts may be combined. For not merely 
where the contents take sensuous forms, as in the vision proper, 
but even where the more abstract medium of speech obtains, the 
Hebrew designedly uses nth to express how the prophet came by 

1 Such an one is called rpfin E^K, Hos. ix. 7 ; more generally 
1 Sam. ix. 6. 

2 According to 1 Sam. ix. 9 his earliest popular name. This passage proves that 
the idea of n&\'~l an d fcfQj is substantially identical. Synonymous with it is nfh 
beholder. But the verbs n&O an( l !"ltn must be distinguished to this extent, that 
the former denotes simply the relation of the eye to an object which it sees, the 
latter the dwelling of the glance on the form of an object, therefore on an image. 
Accordingly, they are related to each other as our "seeing" and "beholding." 

3 "We use the word "prophecy" in the more general sense, according to which it 
is not so much the product of prophetic activity as rather a designation of this 
activity itself. Both uses of the word are warranted linguistically. Cf. Rom. 
xii. 6, 1 Cor. xii. 10, xiii. 2, with 1 Cor. xiii. 8, and -rpixfnTii* (from vptQtiTtv*) 
with pnroptia. (from pnroptuu), the gift of rhetoric, then the artistic discourse itself. 
Thus we do not need to take refuge in Knobel's phrase " prophetism. " 


his knowledge. 1 The contents of prophecy are, consequently, not 
sonic-thing thought out, inferred, hoped, or feared by the prophets, 
but something directly perceived. This explains the categorical 
certainty with which they announce their oracles. They know 
these oracles to be independent of their own subjectivity. The 
revelation comes before their gaze as something independent, nay, 
belonging to another. 

It is God who discloses 2 these things to them things with- 
drawn from human gaze (fivartjpia in N. T. language). The 
fundamental assumption always is, that the attitude of the 
genuine prophet to the contents of his discourse, if not passive, 
is primarily receptive. 3 Only false prophets announce what they 
themselves have thought out or inferred on grounds of proba- 
bility. 4 The heathen wonder-workers or diviners are called B^H 
or D^irr " wise men " or " experts," because they fabricate 
oracles by certain arts and devices. 5 

What has thus forced itself on the seer in direct intuition as 
divine certainty, lie then feels himself compelled by the same 
power of the Spirit to utter. This divine causality, compelling 
the seer not merely to see, but also to tell what he sees, is 
pictured most vividly in Amos iii. 8 : " The lion hath roared, 
who will not fear ? The Lord God hath spoken, who will not 
prophesy ? " Just as involuntarily as one starts in terror when 
the mighty voice of the king of beasts roars, must the prophet 
prophesy when God's revealing word comes to him. 6 Only false 
prophets are led by outward human considerations to proclaim 
what pleases others or brings gain to themselves. 7 But when a 
word has issued from that living stream of thought which the 
prophet plainly distinguishes from his own thoughts and feelings, 
he proclaims it not as his own conviction, but as a word of the 
Lord, demanding correspondent obedience and the trust due to 

1 Cf. the general headings, Amos i. 1 ; Isa. i. 1, ii. 1, xiii. 1 ; Micah i. 1 ; Bab. 
i. 1, etc. 

1 ^N VriD !"6ji Amos iii. 7 ; in N. T. language, a<n>x<rAi/'rTi< ftufripia*. It is 
only another expression for the same circumstance to say, " God declares such things 
to them, the word of the Lord came to them," or to introduce their discourse directly 
with "Thus saith the Lord," or to accompany it with the clause, "the decree of 
the Lord is" <" Q{<3 

3 Cf. Isa. 1. 4 f. Cf. Jer. xxiii. 31 ff. 

5 Cf. Ex. vii. 11 ; 1 Sam. xxviii. 3, 9. 6 Cf. Jer. xx. 7, 9 ; 1 Kings xxii. 14 ff. 

7 Cf. Micah ii. 11 f., iii. 5, 11 ; Ezek. xxxiv. 2, and elsewhere. 


God. He is God's speaker, the organ through which the Invisible 
One speaks audibly to His people. This lies directly in the 
word N'23, which is interchanged in Ex. vii. 1, iv. 16, with 
ns (mouth), the organ of speech. 1 

Whilst it is a necessary part of the character of the true 
prophet to be a seer and speaker of God in the way just ex- 
plained, on the other hand it is not equally necessary that what 
he sees and announces should relate to the future. Even the 
historians, who illumined the foretime with the light of revelation, 
wrote prophetically, because they made known God's ways in 
the past. And what did not fall, locally or by its nature, 
within the prophet's natural field of vision, might be revealed to 
him in that way. 2 We may instance Ezekiel, who sees as 
present what is far distant in space, and also the deep insight of 
the prophets into their times and the hearts of their fellow-men. 3 
But, of course, not only is the prophetic word always significant 
for the future, because it announces divine truth, and because it 
has the kingdom of God for its subject, having reference chiefly 
to its future completion, but the divine mission of its bearers is 
proved to the contemporary world most obviously by the fact 
that they are able even, to lift the veil of the future. 4 The 
Deuteronomic law expressly proposes this criterion for discrimi- 
nating true and false prophets, that the result should confirm the 
predictions of the former and falsify those of the latter. 5 Un- 
doubtedly the prophets, whose writings we still have, owed their 
high reputation in great part to the fulfilment of their oracles in 
reference to the future, while later prophets laid great stress on 
the fulfilment of earlier predictions. 6 

1 Apuleius (De mundo, p. 288) : Prophetae deorum majestate completi effantur 
caeteris, quse divino beneficio soli vident. 

2 Chrysostom (in Tholuck, Die Propheten, 2nd ed. p. 23) : Ov /* Si T p.i\Koira. 

TptQnTtias ifriv livrsTi, i/./.a xcci to, vrapi/.&o*Ta iffTi oi *ai <ra xttp'oiTO. irpo$r,Tiia,; ii-ruy, 
O'TZV TI yinnTai f*i*, xfinrTr,Tou it. 

3 Cf. 2 Kings vi. 12 ; 1 Cor. xiv. 24. Just as little does ^33 imply an express 


reference of the utterance to the future. Prophetic discourse (K2J, S33Dn) which 
was ecstatic especially in more ancient times, was often more distinguished by this 
feature than by its contents from ordinary human discourse (cf. 1 Sam. x. 10 if., xix. 
20 ff.). The Greek rpefnrtis also denotes, not one who foretells, but one qui profatur, 
who expressed the obscure tones of the Pythia in the form of human language. 

4 Cf. 1 Sam. ix. 6. 

5 Deut. xviii. 22 ; cf. Jer. xxviii. 9, 14-17 ; Ezek. xxxiii. 33. 

6 Isa. xxxiv. 16, xli. 21 ff., 26 ff., xlii. 9, xliii. 9. 


If, then, we ask how this peculiar form of life which we call 
prophecy is to be explained and estimated, certainly in a formal 
respect the Shemitic- Hebrew disposition and temperament has 
much to do with it, and must have its due weight in the ex- 
planation. 1 To the Shemites (i.e. the Hebrews) and the tribes 
akin to them in race, language, and character, a certain directness 
of intuition is peculiar. While viewing a phenomenon in its 
isolation, they bring it into direct connection with the supreme 
cause dominating their thoughts. Whereas the Indo-Germans 
strive to analyse the object by reflection and inquire into its 
special nature, to subsume it under the next general idea and 
refer it to its proximate causes, the Shemite directly sees the 
divine in nature and history as well as in his own inner life, sees 
the absolute in the particular and finite, and has little taste 
for ideal abstraction and dialectic methods. His perception is 
intuitive, not systematizing. He does not distinguish universally 
valid truths from passing phenomenal forms ; but the truth 
which (because it is divine, i.e. absolute) dominates him, seems 
to him the absolutely essential thing in the particular concrete 
form. Hence the undivided, undiluted certainty in a particular 
judgment, which is not disturbed by the remembrance of diverse 
dialectic cross-lines. This entire mode of thought, in com- 
parison with that of Indo-Germans, is naive and childlike. This, 
however, does not lessen its worth in regard to the perception of 
the highest truths. The child that thinks it hears God's voice 
in the rolling of the thunder, hits the mark more easily and 
surely than the scientist, who must reason his way back through 
a crowd of physical second causes to a supreme one, and just 
here finds himself left in suspense by his infallible scientific 
method. But comparative psychology plainly teaches this much, 
namely, that the Shemites were more adapted by nature than other 
peoples their equals or superiors in culture to see the absolute 
in the finite, the working of God in nature, His action in history, 
and to hear His words in the inner spiritual life of individuals. 

1 Attempts to characterize Shemitism (or Hebraism) as natural genius, on the 
basis of which Biblical prophecy rises with more or less independence, may be seen 
in F. Hitzig, Der Prophet Jesaja, 1833, p. ix.-xxxiii., and in his Vorlesungen iiber 
A. T. Theologie. E. Renan, Histoire gtnercde et systeme compart des langues 
*em\tiques, prem. partie : Histoire generate des langues semitiques, Paris 1855, 4th 
eil. 1864. G. Banr, Geschichte der A. T. Weisagung, ! Vorgeschichte, 1861, 
p. 33 ff. R. F. Gran, Urtprunge und Ziele unstrer Cutturenticickelung, 1875. 


As the ethnological factor is to be recognised in explaining 
prophecy generally, so is the personal, individual factor in tracing 
the derivation of particular oracles. The prophet is not a blank 
mirror, on which divine images are cast that have no sort of exist- 
ence in time and no connection with his peculiar character. 
Formally, revelation joins on to existing conceptions, and is partly 
determined in the shape it assumes by the temperament of the 
prophet, the liveliness and cast of his imagination, his mental 
training and calling in life. Dreams may serve as a comparison, 
where our own conceptions occur to us, without our being masters 
of them. Thus, Ezekiel sees the buildings of the temple, with 
whose circumstances he was most familiar. An Amos brings 
images from his shepherd-life. 

But the question is, whether Biblical prophecy can be referred 
to this natural genius of nations and individuals, without an un- 
explained remnant being left. Even in a formal respect we must 
deny this. We may indeed be reminded, by way of explaining 
the conception of a divine agent in the prophet's consciousness of 
other mental circumstances and conditions which are derived from 
special divine causation, e.g. the melancholy of Saul, 1 Sam. 
xvi. 14 ff., which is natural, as shown by the remedies applied to 
it, and is yet said to be caused by an evil spirit sent by God, 1 or 
the natural wisdom of Solomon, 2 or the technical skill of Bezaleel. 3 
But, to say nothing of the fact that the Hebrews would not 
ascribe these cases to nature, even measured by our standard, the 
prophet's inner relation to his revelation remains still a psycho- 
logical enigma. It is not a question here of a peculiar state of 
mind or a permanent mental gift, but of particular previsions, 
which are distinguished to a hair's-breadth from the prophet's 
own thinking and feeling. Hebrew naivete did not go so far, as 
one might suppose according to Hitzig's representation (ut ante, 
p. 24), that among this people "the spirit was still unconscious 
of its own internality (Innerlichkeit), and was still external to 
itself, so that it could regard its own products, purposes, and 
thoughts as something external and obtained from without." 4 
The conscious, sharp severance between the prophet's human 
feeling and opinion on one hand, and his word of revelation on 

1 So Spiuoza, Tractatus Theologico-pol., cap. 1. * So Spinoza, ibid. 

3 Ex. xxxi. 3 ; so Eedslob, as above. 

4 Cf. his Biblische Theologie des A. T. p. 11 ff., 76 ff. 


the other, is altogether inexplicable on this view. How differ- 
ently Nathan is instructed by divine inspiration from what his 
individual opinion suggested, 2 Sam. vii. 3, 4 ! A factor is 
always lacking to the explanation of such discrimination and 
immovable subjective certainty. The insufficiency of the old 
rationalistic explanation, which made the prophet a man of 
distinguished gifts of head and heart, an observer of life, a friend 
of virtue and therefore of Deity, a predicter of bright or cloudy 
days through that sure gaze into the future which escapes the 
thoughtless worldling, 1 is self - evident. Moreover, the higher 
intelligence and feeling as explained by Knobel, 2 and the native 
conception, which Eedslob makes the basis, 3 are here seen to be 

The clearer, in distinction from Shamanism, the intelligent 
consciousness of the prophets remains in receiving their prophecies, 
and the more their entire bearing is pervaded by moral, holy 
earnestness, the less can their assertion of the divinity of the word 
they announce be understood psychologically, unless a higher 
power is present in their consciousness. An analogy to such 
a power is furnished by the voice of conscience in its most 
emphatic utterances, and by the spiritual life in its inmost, purest 
converse with God. We are thus led to the explanation, which 
is the only one known to the Bible itself, the theory of a super- 
natural agent, who is the principle of prophecy. Of course from 
the Deistic standpoint a living intervention of God is negatived 
at once. The Pantheistic theory, it is true, does not cast doubt 
on the divinity of these spiritual transactions, but it regards them 
simply as products of heightened nature-power. "Whoever, on the 
other hand, has mastered the Biblical idea of God, according to 
which an entrance of the Divine Spirit who transcends nature into 
the limits of finitude is the very essence of revelation, will discern 
in prophetic communication the form in which the living God 
made Himself known to His people in the preparatory age of the 
Old Covenant. 

Certainly the decisive proof of the divinity of prophecy must 
always be sought in its contents. The value we put on these will 
determine whether we are compelled and disposed to refer prophecy 

T Hufnagel ; similarly Eichhorn, Griesinger. Cf. even Stutzmann in Knobel, 
Proplietismus der Hebrder, i. p. 184. 

* Ibid. I p. 179, 215 f. s Der Begri/des Nabi, p. 18. 


to a supernatural cause. Before entering on the spirit and con- 
tents of biblical prophecy, let us first search for phenomena of 
analogous form in the extra-Israelitish world. 

NOTE A. This current conception plainly follows from the expres- 
sions with which the coming of this prophetic Spirit upon a man is 
described : hy rvn, Num. xxiv. 2 ; 1 Sam. xix. 20, 23 ; 2 Chron. 
xv. 1, xx. 14 ; or more violently hy btt, Ezek. xi. 5 ; and ^y rfaf, 
1 Sam. x. 6, of sudden piercing, penetrating. Because it is a 
power seizing man powerfully, often violently, riirp "P also stands 
instead of nvi, 2 Kings iii. 15 ; Ezek. i. 3, iii. 14, 22, xxxiii. 22, 
xxxvii. 1, xl. 1. It is also said of this Spirit : He puts on (B^>), a 
man like a dress, thus making him His bodily veil (Judg. vi. 34 ; 

1 Chron. xii. 18 ; 2 Chron. xxiv. 20). Along with this, hy rw is 
found of the Spirit : to settle on one, rest on him (Num. xi. 26 ; 

2 Kings ii. 15 ; Isa. xi. 2). In consequence of this the 
Spirit of God is upon a man (Num. xi. 25 ; Isa. Ixi. 1). This 
expression points to a permanent state of inspiration, in which, 
however, its higher origin is also distinctly intimated. The dis- 
penser of these extraordinary gifts is still more conspicuous, where 
it is said of God : He gives (^J? jru, Num. xi. 29 ; Isa. xlii. 1) or 
pours out (Joel ii. 28 f.) this Spirit on men. Accordingly it is 
everywhere something new and higher that must come upon man 
if his words are to be divine. And even where this Spirit has 
become his permanent possession, this relation has taken its rise 
from a divine, creative act, w T hich does not coincide with the 
imparting of the general spirit of life, either as a rule in regard to 
time, or in any case in regard to substance. 

NOTE B. The signification of the word x^ cannot be obtained from 
the Hebrew verbal stem K33, because of the latter only the denomi- 
native formations niph. and hithp. occur : to act or behave as a &023- 
On the other hand, the kal of the nearly-related JD3 occurs, at least in 
the participle (Prov. xviii. 4) JD3 ^H3, bubbling brook, which mean- 
ing is confirmed by the more frequent hiph. J^an, to make to gush 
forth, pour forth abundantly, sounds or words for the most part 
forming the object (Prov. xv. 2, 28 ; Ps. xix. 2, cxix. 171). With 
this agrees also the signification of the Hebrew and Arabic root 
23, to rise, come to light, swell, with many variations. The ques- 
tion whether in 5033 the form ^Jp[5 is active or passive in meaning 
has indeed been answered by most in the latter sense, because in 
Hebrew it is almost always passive; cf. vpx, K^|5, roasted grain, along- 
side "6i3 ; also Vjps, overseer, properly, one appointed to oversee, 
alongside *npB. Accordingly Eedslob interprets : one made to 


bubble (der Angcsprudclte), namely, with God's Spirit, who is 
thought of originally as fine fluid, one inspired. Similarly Keil 
(on Gen. xx. 7) : the God-addressed or inspired. With this may 
be compared <i mn D3^> yaK (Prov. i. 23), although this very place 
shows that ran means not to bubble, with accusative of person, 

but can only be joined with the accusative of the thing. Just 


as passively Kb'ster : instructed, taught; he appeals to ljJ> and 
Hupfeld. But such a passive derivation is plainly unjust to the 
sense of the Hebrew word, which may be most clearly seen by 
comparing Ex. vii. 1 with iv. 16. Also the compromises 
between the passive and active sense, attempted by Oehler and 
previously by Schultz, are unnatural. On the other hand, the 
matter assumes a perfectly simple shape when the active, or at 
least intransitive, signification of the form ^DP is recognised from the 
first. That this signification occurs in Hebrew, is proved by 7*01^ 
locusts, properly devourers, T'pn, which Hupfeld wrongly interprets 
in the passive : favoured, B^B, fugitive, P'ny, glistening, synonymous 
with pny D!?B, Ewald, Ausf. L. R 149 e. Cf. also Hitzig on 
Sefarya, i. 11. Katil so intensifies the active participle as to 

make it express a permanent quality. In Arabic the form 
stands far oftener in the active sense ( J^Ull L5 -**t), and Fleischer 
(Delitzsch, Comm. zu Genesis, 4th ed. p. 551 ff.) has proved that 


especially the ;, exactly corresponding to our word, is to be so 

regarded. Cf. also Marti, Jahrb. fur protcstantische Theologie, 1880, 
i. p. 147. If there can no longer be any doubt respecting the 
active signification of this word (which is also acknowledged by 
Delitzsch, von Hofmann, Ewald, Dillmann, and now by Schultz), 
the question at most is, whether the word describes the prophetic 
discourse as breaking forth involuntarily, violently (the bubbler), 
in which case the peculiarity distinguishing the Nabi from other 
speakers would lie in the utterance itself, or whether we should be 
content with the meaning divulger, announcer, speaker, and then 

supply conventionally : of God and divine secrets. The latter is 

*.' i 
favoured by the Arabic Ijj, as well as by the parallels quoted by 

Ewald (on Jesaja, p. 7) : Sanscrit vddi or fddica, Latin votes, from 
vad, to speak, Moses = <dll J and (J^u among the Druses = 

prophet. At all events, the Assyrio-Babylonian God Nebo, 
so called as the speaker, revealer, has his name from the 


same word. See Schrader, Jahrb. fur prot. Theol. 1875, 
p. 338 ff. 

2. Are Phenomena analogous to Biblical Prophecy to be found in 
the Field of Heathenism ? * 

The possibility of Deity speaking directly to and through man 
is often assumed in antiquity outside the Bible. We find there 
a widespread opinion, that man has the capacity, in virtue of his 
spiritual nature, of hearing the voice of Deity. 2 And in particular, 
it is supposed that individuals are endowed with capacity for so 
doing, and enjoy closer converse with the gods, so that, initiated 
into their counsel, they are able to foreannounce it. This presci- 
ence of the future is not acquired through the intellect, but the 
soul is made directly aware of the future. 3 Such knowledge is 
the result of divine power and gift. 4 More precisely, it is the 
Divine Spirit who comes upon and fills man in order to speak 
through him, so that, possessed by a higher power, he is detached 
from his subjective thinking and feeling (note A). 

Thus the main general conditions of prophecy seem present 
here also. Nor can it be asserted without qualification that this 
inspiration, in distinction from that of the Israelitish prophets, is 
one that completely annihilates the moral individuality of the 
recipient. Alongside such phenomena as are presented in Shaman- 
ism we find also the higher conception, approximating more 

1 Cf. with this section, especially : In Pauly's Realencyklopadie der classischen 
Alterthumsmssenschaft, Metzger's art. " Divinatio," ii. p. 1113-1185 (1842). Nagels- 
bach, Homerische Theologie, 2nd ed. 1861, p. 149-194, his Nachhomerische Theo- 
logie, 1857, p. 157-191. Tholuck, Die Propheten und ihre Weissagungen, 2nd ed. 
1860, p. 1 ff. G. F. Oehler, Ueber das Verhdltniss der A. T. Prophelie, zur held- 
nischen Mantik, Oliickwunschschreiben, Tubingen, 1861. P. Scholz, Gtitzendienst 
und Zauberwesen bei den alten Hebrdern und den benachbarten Volkern, 1877. 
Lenormant, DieMagie und Wahrsage-Kunst der Chaldder, 1878, especially p. 421 ff. 

2 Cf. the beautiful passages in Ovid, the first describing rather man's relation to 
the transcendent, the second that to the immanent Deity : Est deus in nobis et sunt 
commercia coeli. Sedibus setheriis spiritus ille venit (Ars Amat. iii. 549 ff. ). Est 
deus in nobis, agitante calescimus illo. Impetus hie sacrse semina mentis habet 
(Fast. vi. 5f.). 

3 Cf. Plato, Phcedrus, p. 242, c. 20 (pavrixov n n ^v^n) : Cicero, De divinatione, 
i. p. 1, 6. Plato calls such knowledge inurvhu.* vp/>(r'$i*.u'rixt> aviv u<riti>.tt<.u;. Plutarch 
also remarks expressly : auruXXay/Wa/j K,VT'.TO,I rou ^sAXovros (De def. orac. c. 40). 

4 etitf l!rtt S.Sa^snj, Plato, Phcedr. 244. Cf. Cicero, De divinat. i. 6, ii. 63 ; De 
Leg. ii. 13. 


closely to Israelitish prophecy, that man receives oracles with 
a certain personal independence, and these oracles are partly 
conditioned by his individual peculiarities. 1 

But, first of all, it is to be noted, that both the direct intercourse 
of the gods with men, and also their revelation through individual, 
spiritually illuminated seers, where these things occur, scarcely 
ever belong to historical times, but to that happier age when gods 
and men lived together in more intimate and unconstrained inter- 
course. Eich as the mythical period everywhere is in such 
intercourse, much as fable has to relate (e.g. among the Hellenes) 
of the elect favourites of the gods, 2 to whom it was granted to 
behold past, present, and future, these noble figures remain on the 
threshold of the nation's historical life. In Homer, the seer 
Tiresias, Calchas(//. a. 69 ff.), Helenas (II rj. 44 f.), Polydamas 
(II. or. 250), Amphiaraos (Od. o. 244 ff.), Halitherses (Od. a>. 451), 
still stand in high esteem ; but already they rely in part on out- 
ward signs, which they have only to interpret (cf. Halitherses, Od. 
/3. 157ff.). And while traces of doubt respecting such divine 
gifts are found even thus early (//. o>. 220 ff. ; Od. a. 415 ff.), the 
seers sometimes appearing in historical times, who prophesied 
extempore in accordance with an inner spiritual communication, 
were regarded as adventurers, at least by the educated. 3 Apart 
from the spiritual import of the divine oracles, we see a funda- 
mental antithesis in this respect to the Israelitish literature, where 
the prophets, sustained by the bare power of the Spirit, appeared in 
every period of the classical history, and were able to maintain 
their reputation in presence of a critical age. 

And yet the whole of heathen antiquity thirsted for divine 
revelation, and listened and looked for every intimation of the 
Deity. Even the precarious substitutes sought and found in 
place of prophecy exercised incredible influence on the entire life 
of heathen nations, both cultured and uncultured. We have now 
to consider somewhat more closely the variety of means by which 
men sought to place themselves in contact with Deity. 

The less a divinely superior power positively entered into con- 
sciousness, the greater the attention given in the heathen world 

1 See Plutarch's account, De defectu orac. 21, 22. 

2 Cf. as to the Chinese, in Victor v. Strauss, Schi-kiny (1880), p. 7, the words of 
the supreme God to King Wen. 

3 Cf. Nagelsbach, Nachhomerische Theologie, p. I74f. 


to such utterances as at least did not seem to be under the control 
of man's reflective consciousness. Involuntary, inevitable present^ 
ment was regarded as a reflection of the divine will. Nor was it 
always illusory, but often inexplicably fitted in to the connection 
of events. So far as such feeling is of moral character, divine 
dignity cannot be wholly refused to it. Compare the Bamoviov of 
Socrates in its affinity with conscience. Presentiments at the 
moment of death seemed least deceptive, 1 since man was then all 
but released from bodily life and its limiting influences. 

In particular, dreams were marked out by their relative indepen- 
dence of conscious thought as inspirations of a higher power. In 
ancient Egypt as in the Homeric world, among the ancient Eomans 
as among the Germans, among the Babylonians as among the 
Chinese 2 (and where not ?), they were often held of the highest 
importance. 3 Experience indeed showed that their reality could 
not be trusted without reserve. Already in Homer (Od. r. 560 ff.) 
dreams are divided into such as issue from the ivory gate and 
befool men (as intended occasionally by the gods), and such as 
issue from the gate of horn and are trustworthy. No criterion 
by which to distinguish them is known. In dream a deity or a 
departed spirit may appear and speak to the sleeper, so that he 
receives intelligible information. But the dream-image is also 
often symbolic, needing interpretation, as in the Egyptian story 
in Joseph's life and the Babylonian in Daniel's. Hence an 
important branch of ancient mantism is always dream-interpreta- 
tion, which, of course, degenerated into wilful trickery, unless a 
spirit possessing control over the system of nature inspired the 
interpretation as well as the dream (Gen. xl. 8, xli. 16). For the 
rest, the Bible, while placing dreams at God's service, draws a 
clear distinction between dream -vision and prophetic vision. 
Zechariah's night-visions are no dreams. The Arabs also keep 
the two apart, placing the dream, which always has something 
sensuous about it, far below the vision. 4 

The significance attributed to dreams led to express efforts to 
produce dreams by artificial means, 5 and to the setting up of 

1 Cf. Plato, Apol. Socr. 30. 2 Strauss, Schi-king, p. 11. 

3 Cf. H. a.. 63, xxi ya.f r / tx Ait; tffny ; /3. 22. 56. Od. |. 495, &'.7e; evupos. See 

especially Cicero, De, divinatione, i. 29. 

4 Cf. Fleischer's remark in Delitzsch's Biblical Psychology, p. 332. T. & T. 

5 Cf. as to the ancient Egyptians, Ebers, Mfjijpten und die Biicher Hose's, i. 321 f. 


dream-oracles. 1 We find this wilful inducing of an unconscious 
state, in order to obtain higher revelation, especially in ecstasy, 
which seemed all the more favourable to higher influence, because it 
was always regarded as a momentary possession by a higher power. 
Even the settled state of lunacy was explained by the sway of a 
demon, on which account lunatics were sacred, as they still are 
among the Bedouins. 2 But in temporary ecstasy the inspired 
state differed still more from the natural. Of course there are 
countless gradations in it, from the rational self-control which is 
laid hold of by inspiration, up to complete loss of self-control, 
where a real alienatio mentis intervenes. Cicero describes the 
furor, where the spirit, withdrawn from the body, is excited 
by divine impulse (instinctus), as a heightening of the presentient 
faculty natural to man. 3 Elsewhere also with respect to this 
enthusiasm, which has something in common with the state of 
drunkenness, release from the ties of the body, unshackling the 
soul, is held to condition the revelation of the divinity slumbering 
within. 4 

The exalted state then (pavta) being regarded as a voucher for 
supernatural discourse, attempts were made to induce it by arti- 
ficial means. Thus arose mantism (divination) in the proper sense 
of the word (fiavn/cij, sc. re-^vrf]. Stupefying vapours, herbs, 
movements, conduced to this end. In this way a mysterious 
state was brought about, such as not seldom presents itself in the 
diseased human organism (somnambulism, etc.). What was said 
in this state was no longer under the control of reflection, and 
often went beyond the field of ordinary perception in a surprising 

1 Kings xviii. 26 depicts a dance designed to induce the state 
of madness, similar to the conduct of dervishes to-day. The 
opposite to this is beautifully seen in Elijah, who without artificial 
intensity of feeling, relying on bare faith in the living God, 
accomplishes more by his simple prayer than the whole crowd of 
Baal's prophets. It is true, even the K*2J is in a sense released 
from bodily life and the limits of his surroundings ; nay, some 

1 See in Pauly, as above, ii. 1124 f. ; and as to the Babylonians, Lenormant, p. 404. 
1 Cf. v. Orelli, DurcWs heilige Land, 2nd ed. p. 140 f. 

3 De divinatione, i. 31 f., and especially i. 50. 

4 So especially by Plato and Plutarch. Cf. the latter's utterance, De def. orar. 

39 : r, $ux>l Tilt ftatrix.*!* eux itixra.Ta.1 tKf>a.ffa. TOU ffup.a.rt>s, uttrif v'ifcu;, aXX' 
i-^auffet Kxt i;y, rvQKovTati 3< Tj irpif r fttiron a.\Kfiis,n a,VTr,s nai ffv-y%vfin. 


hints in the older history show us prophets in a state of stupor, 
like that of possession (cf. the casting away of clothes, 1 Sam. 
xix. 24). But if inspiration took this violent form in the disciples 
of the prophets and in a Saul, this was not the case in a Moses, 
in Samuel, in an Isaiah or Jeremiah. Those indeed who had to 
convey the Word to men appear more or less in a state of unusual 
excitement and enthusiasm, which is seen even in the form of 
their written oracles. But the security for the divinity of their 
message does not lie in their speaking in a half-conscious or un- 
conscious state, but they heard the voice of the Lord and saw His 
visions with clear consciousness. 1 Balaam is rather an example 
of a clairvoyant. The emphasizing of his state in his account of 
himself should be observed, Num. xxiv. 3 f. Nearly allied to this 
example is the Shamanism still flourishing among the Tunguse. 2 
Here by outward incitements the physico-mental torpor is induced, 
which makes a man the channel of words, whose meaning he 
himself does not know. 

Among the Hellenes also such artificial inspiration is found. 
The Pythian oracle has such an origin. Vapours rising from a 
rift in the earth were used to stupefy the Pythia, her words or 
sounds being then expounded by priests (-nyjo^Tai). 3 Such 
interpretation gave still larger play to human influence. The 
interpreting priests were of necessity regarded as inspired by 
the Deity. But, in any case, something human inheres in the 
artificial character of every oracle, since the initiative belongs 
to man. 

If, in a state of emancipation from the limits of reflection, 
such as occurs in dreams, lunacy, and at the approach of death, 
special disclosures were expected from man's spirit respecting 
what was concealed from it in the normal state, they were espe- 
cially expected from the spirits of the departed, to whom of 
necessity insight was granted into the other world where the 
roots of earthly events lie. As the demons were supposed to 
know what was hidden from man, 4 so also the souls of the 

1 The LXX. rightly translate the Hebrew 5033 invariably by v/>o$nm{, never by 


2 See Tholuck as above, p. 8 ff. 

3 Cf. Justin, xxiv. 6 : Profundum terrse foramen, quod in oracula patet, ex quo 
frigidus spiritus, vi quadam velut vento in sublime expulsus, mentes vatum in 
vecordiam vertit, impletasque deo responsa consulentibus dare cogit. 

4 Cf. Dieterici, Thier und Mensch vor dem Kdnig der Genien, Leipzig 1879, 


departed, to whom a demon-like existence was ascribed. Hence 
necromancy (calling up and questioning the dead) is found 
among the most diverse nations, Babylonians, 1 Egyptians,' 2 
Canaanites (Deut. xviii. 12), Persians, 3 Thracians, 4 Greeks, 5 Etrus- 
cans, and Romans. 6 In the Old Testament this mode of ascertain- 
ing future events is not seldom mentioned, of course as a gross 
abuse altogether in opposition to the Divine Spirit. We thus see 
that this gift of summoning spirits was not a general one, but was 
only in the power of certain media who had a divining demon 
(note B). 

The strict prohibition in the divine law, which directs all its 
severity against such over-curious arts that were held criminal 
even among the Babylonians, 7 was fully justified by their ungodly 
character. Not merely was the imposture connected with these 
things condemned, while the folly of the superstition is also 
emphasized, 8 but still more the guilty licence with which man 
transgresses the limits of the sphere allotted to him, in which 
divine revelations enough were granted. In 1 Sam. xxviii. we 
see that this art was not always ineffectual, but that occasionally 
it might lead man to knowledge, although never to salvation. 

That conscious deceit played a part in these inquiries from 
the first and everywhere, is a quite untenable supposition. The 
wide extension and the high importance attributed to these 
oracles imply of necessity that, if nothing substantial lay beneath 
apparitions of the dead, the deception was originally at least a 
universal self-deception, in which even the media were involved. 
As in magic everywhere, art was resorted to afterwards, and so 
the superstition was purposely turned to profit. Ventriloquism 
often produced the voices ; yet the beginning of the superstition 
is not to be sought in mere art. How far demonic influences 
were actually at work, is a question we need not examine here, 
and one which lies beyond the reach of scientific examination. 

p. FT i_^jui!l ^Lii' >^J (jyuJ^I ^y ( .^\ l^-O l^j (the demons persuaded 

men that they knew what is hidden). 

1 Cf. Lenormant, p. 508 ff. ; Scholz, p. 89 ff. * Cf. Isa. xix. 3. 

3 Cf. Strabo, xvi. 2. * Cf. Herod, iv. 94 If. 

6 Cf. Odyss. xi. 29 fF. ; Argonaut, iii. 1030 ff. ; Ovid, Met. vii. 240 ff. ; see Greek 

or.icles of the dead in Nagelsbach, Nachhom. Theol. p. 189. 

6 See on Etruscans and Romans, Lenormant, p. 512. 

7 Lenormant, p. 517. Isa. viii. 19. 


In the case mentioned in 1 Sam. xxviii., a divine interposition is 
to be supposed, such as may occur also in dreams. 

But the yearning of all ancient nations for living intercourse 
with the Deity, and inquiry into His will, early attached itself 
to other revelations than to speech springing from the human 
spirit in those of its emotions which were regarded as divine. 
As the Deity Himself was believed to be most directly known in 
nature, so His intimations were there most certainly apprehended. 
In lightning and thunder, in the flight of birds, in the rustling 
of the wind, in the state of the stars, divine voices, hints, and 
signs were recognised from the earliest days. Certainly special 
inner illumination was needed rightly to understand such repara 
and o-?7//,eta, and thus, in Homer, their interpretation was 
practised by the seers, or a definite class of seers, at least pre- 
eminently. Signs and interpretation were also often exposed 
to the attacks of scepticism by reason of their ambiguity and 
untrustworthiness. 1 And in this field mantism proper developed 
into a profession, observing and interpreting natural phenomena 
by certain rules of art apart from all inspiration. 

But even where, in the noblest, because most direct manner, 
the secrets of Deity are discovered in the sighing of the wind, 
the rustling of the grain, the murmur of the fountain, something 
obscure, indefinite clings to such intimations, plainly distinguish- 
ing them from clear prophetic speech. An enigmatic character 
belongs essentially to such natural revelation as the Hellenes 
and Romans under Oriental influence personified in the Sibyl. 2 
And where, as at Dodona or Delos, in some sanctuary of nature 
a standing oracle was established, 3 of necessity in the course of 
time purely rational observation, or even calculation that avails 
itself of any kind of help, and in the best case the moral con- 
sciousness, take the place of immersion in nature. Most of the 
oracles, even the one at Delphi, 4 although somewhat differently, 

1 Cf. Nagelsbach, Homerische Theologie, p. 177 ff. 

3 Cf. H. Ewald, Abhandlung iiber Entstehung und Werth der Sibyllinischen Biicher, 
1858, p. 8. 

3 At Dodona the natural media of divination were the motion of the leaves in the 
sacred oak (<pyxx<j/*av<r/a), the murmur of the spring, and the sound of the wind 
beating against the brazen cymbals ; at Delos the rustling of the laurel. 

4 It is disputed whether at Dodona originally a personal medium was put into 
a state of mania, or oracles were constructed from the whistling of the outrushiiu; 


appealed to the intimate union of man with nature, and were 
able long to maintain their reputation partly by this means, 
partly by the co-operation of the moral sense, which owes not a 
little to the stimulus of natural surroundings. Still men like 
Socrates, Xenophon, Plato (especially in the Timseus) speak in 
high terms of them, and the Stoics as well ; whilst the Peripa- 
tetics, Cynics, Epicureans, and in the same way for different 
reasons a Lucian, Aristophanes, Demosthenes, hold them in little 
esteem. Even the symbolic obscurity, nay, ambiguity, of the 
oracular utterances gave little offence, from the right feeling that 
such features had their reason in the nature of the Deity. 
Occasionally the purpose was recognised of provoking the 
inquirers in this way to reflection, and so of appealing to the 
revelation in the human breast (Herod, i. 53, 55). But here an 
essential distinction is obvious between the groping and feeling 
after the Deity who reveals himself only in dim twilight, and 
the God who really speaks like one spirit to another in clear 

If a sort of inspiration by the spirit of nature underlies these 
mantic oracles, this inspiration fell into the shade the more that 
attention was directed to mere observation of the outward 
phenomenon. There were not wanting indeed, on the soil of 
heathenism, acute observation and research into nature, under- 
taken for the purpose of learning the divine will and work. 
Exact knowledge of the stars and calculation of their course 
grew out of the effort to discover the powers ruling in life, and 
to foresee what was to be expected from them. The Chaldcea)is l 
were the most successful labourers in this field, and won the fame 
among all ancient nations of the best and most systematic 
acquaintance with divination. By the priestly caste, which went 
by the name of " Chaldseans " among other nations, divination 
was carried on in higher style, in accord with their higher con- 
ception of nature and Deity. Philo 2 excellently characterized 
their theory of the world in saying that they identify God and 
nature, making everything to be determined by fate and necessity. 
Cf. Diodor. Sic. ii. 30 : No phenomenon or event on earth is 
accidental or spontaneous, every one is determined beforehand by 
the gods. The system pervading the universe, according to their 
view, necessarily made it possible to discover natural as well as 

1 Cf. Lenormant, p. 421 ff. De Migr. Abr. 32. 


human events from the indications given in nature. Continued 
observation might lead to some degree of certainty, e.g., in 
weather-omens. It was especially the stars to which, as higher 
powers, a determining influence upon earthly events was 
ascribed, and from their state accordingly conclusions were 
drawn respecting the course of human transactions. The more 
systematic the observation of nature, especially of the stars, the 
more must the thought of law, instead of capricious chance, have 
occurred to man ; only in subordinating human events to natural 
law the theory of the world became of necessity fatalistic. 

Even where alongside this more scientific divination, and 
partly among the same nations, more isolated natural phenomena, 
having less of a cosmical character, were explained as presages, 
the basis assumed is the connection between visible nature and 
man's invisible, still unaccomplished destiny. If not a science, 
at least a fixed method was taken as guide, the signs having to 
be interpreted according to definite rules. Here comes in the 
interpretation of extraordinary natural phenomena, such as earth- 
quakes, untimely births, etc., observation of the lightning and 
clouds, of the flight of birds, of the pecking of fowl, 1 inspection of 
entrails, all which auguries are found in specially elaborated 
forms among the Babylonians, Etruscans, Romans, and to some 
extent among the Greeks. To the same class belongs also the 
observation of tortoise-shells among the Chinese. 2 In all this 
men saw symptoms of the life of nature, from which, because of 
the intimate connection of the latter with man's life, conclusions 
might be drawn respecting that life, provided one understood the 
method to be followed, which soon became the business of a special 
guild (e.g. the Etruscan Lucumones) and formed the subject of a 
special sacred literature. At first, the unexpected flight of a bird 
seemed significant. Later, such observation was reduced to rule. 
At first men interpreted by the instinct of the moment, then by 
rules, last of all by a code of rules embodied in written tradition. 
In particular, the Stoic school, in order to justify the whole 
system of divination, pointed to the (rvfnrddeia binding the 
universe together, the cognatio, concentus or consensus naturcef in 

1 Cf. the Slavic horse-oracle in Riigen, Jul. Lip pert, Die Rdigionen der europ- 
ilinchen Culturvolker, 1881, p. 99. 

2 Cf. Strauss, Scld-king, p. 10 ; Faber, Licitts, p. 72. 

3 Cf. Cicero, De divinatione, ii. 14, 58, 60, 69; De natura deorum, ii. 7, iii. 11, 28. 


virtue of which the individual being, and not least the animal, 
feels instinctively along with all nature, and has presentiments of 
much that happens. 1 But it is evident how easily popular conscious- 
ness might lose this connection and persist in blind adherence to 
single auguries, whilst philosophical speculation was of necessity 
just as easily led astray by this popular faith. 

Next in order to this prophetic application of single natural 
phenomena comes the use of certain apparatus to arrive at unknown 
results. Such was the hydrornancy of the Egyptians, prophecy 
by means of the water in a cup, whose rising bubbles were 
the material of interpretation, etc. The lot appealed more 
directly to the Deity. Here the ruling principle is, that what is 
not determined by man is determined by the Deity. The lot 
was cast with various instruments dice, arrows, wands, etc., 
among the Babylonians, 2 Arabians, 3 and others. Of the lot, as of 
the dream, it is true that God may employ it. 4 On the other 
hand, he has not given man the right to consult Him at pleasure. 
Whether the Uriin and Thummim was a special privilege of the 
people of God, a kind of lot, or whether the answer was read in 
the shining of the precious stones, 5 or the medium was of another 
kind, is matter of dispute. But the import of the answers given 
by this oracle is as different from 0. T. prophecy as its character. 
It served an essentially different end from the standing institute. 
In it the will of God of course the relation of God and the 
nation being in a normal state might be ascertained in doubtful 
cases. It was a supreme court of appeal in grave decisions 
affecting the commonwealth. The answer was always a direction 
in reference to the particular case, without further explanation. 
No spiritual illumination of man was connected with it. 

Let us return to the appliances of heathen divination. Like 
the primitive lot, chance also as a divine ordinance, and conse- 
quently the incidental circumstances of an action (especially a 
religious one), appeared presignificant to the piety of ancient 
times. Not merely meeting certain animals and meeting men, 
but a word addressed to one without intention, and the like, had 

1 Cf. the suggestive reasoning in Cicero, De div. i. 15, cf. 48, ii. 14, 34, 35, 72. 

* Cf. Lenormant, p. 430 ff. ; Ezek. xxiv. 6 f., and Jerome on the passage. 

3 Cf. the details in Scholz, p. 75. Respecting the Slavs, cf. Lippert, p. 100 ; the 
Germans, p. 189. 

* Cf. Jonah L 7 ; Acts i. 24 ff. 

5 Cf. the oracle in the Libyan Ammonium, Diod. xxvii. 50 ; Curt. iv. 7. 


the force of an omen. In distinction from auguries, these omens 
presented themselves unsought. Human caprice is the more 
evident in them as the individual might accept or decline the 
omen he encountered or even interpret it in his favour, if he 
only had the necessary presence of mind, which freedom Pliny 
(xxviii. 4) describes as a great prerogative bestowed by God on 
man. As the higher unity of nature is presupposed in the 
auguries mentioned before, so in these omens the presupposition 
is a unity of events that excludes chance. Thus it is wrong to 
speak of a " fetishism of chance" (de Wette) in the original 
teaching of religions, although adherence to single signs degene- 
rated into this. 

Let us sum up. The universal search of the nations for 
revelations of the Deity and indications of His will proves a 
vividly - felt need of self - revelation on His part, a need 
making itself directly felt in man as he stands with childlike 
simplicity in presence of God and nature. But although points 
of attachment were given to the nations in nature and history, 
intellect and conscience, in which they might discern the Deity, 
still the uncertain, superstitious, inquisitive, and insane feeling 
after divine revelations beyond the sphere in which God was 
pleased to make Himself known to them, shows how little these 
revelations could satisfy the natural man with his nature 
corrupted and power of perception weakened by sin. But great 
as was the error and selfishness of the course man took, it was 
the outcome of the noble hunger for God implanted in him and 
nowhere fully satisfied in heathenism. With this the revelation 
of the Lord to Israel stands in powerful contrast. He announces 
His ways, usually unsought, in clear speech, through His Spirit, 
who is essentially distinct from the spirit of nature, a free, 
moral power, and distinct also from the national spirit, a holy, 
chastening, and redeeming power of God. 

This contrast loses nothing of its greatness when we take 
into account the nations bordering on and allied to Israel. No 
doubt a common spiritual inheritance is traceable among the' 
Edomites, Arabians, Moabites, etc. ; but whilst these tribes more 
and more blended the knowledge of God transmitted to them 
with heathenism, and thus became involved in the errors 
described above, in Israel alone a converse with God was main- 
tained, worthy of the majesty and condescension of the Supreme 


Spirit, and conducive to His farther revelation. Of prophecy 
there is little sign in these tribes. The " wise men " are there 
the depositories of the knowledge of God, inherited from 
antiquity. Of a future plan of God they have nothing to tell. 
To say nothing of individual poets in Mohammed's age, almost 
the sole remnant of prophetic discourse is preserved to us in the 
Koran, which claims to be inspired by God. But although 
points of similarity even in form are not to be overlooked 
between the admonitions of the Biblical seers and those of the 
prophet of Mecca, the latter is destitute of the originality which 
must be postulated in an epoch-making prophet, and still more 
in a religious founder. The inspiration also is rather morbidly 
sought than one that bursts forth by inner constraint. At 
the same time, religious enthusiasm is not to be denied 
to Mohammed's discourses. Especially in the older Suras it is 
present in a high degree. But his language is related to that 
of the prophets pretty much as the confused tirades of a 
spiritualistic medium, made up of motley reminiscences, and 
held together by mere pathos, are related to the works of the 
spirits whom he professes to represent. Mohammed is through- 
out an epigonus of Biblical literature, and what he has of 
national character in common with the prophets of the Old 
Covenant is too little to raise him to the height from which 
they bear their testimony through the sovereign Spirit of 

We come to the conclusion that no phenomenon analogous 
to Biblical prophecy, even in form, is anywhere to be found 
in the world of nations. It is true, all nations sought after 
special divine revelations beyond what reason and conscience 
taught them of the working of the Deity in nature and history, 
and expected to succeed by the intensifying of human suscepti- 
bility and by immersion in the unconscious nature-power. But 
such means of becoming acquainted with the divine, such 
morbid self-enhancing of the human spirit, artificially enfeebling 
it up to the point of unconscious surrender to the dominion 
of nature, is opposed to the true nature of God, and can only 
lead farther away from Him ; whereas His Spirit reveals Himself 
in Israel by clear speech in keeping with His dignity. 

NOTE A. A furor divinus, a tff-o'oeuffroj opw, overpowers the 
seer. Cf. Plato, Timaus, p. 71, 72 (also Liicke, Ojfenbar/ ///// 


JoJiannis, i. 32 f.) ; Cicero, De divin. i. 6, 18, 49. De natura 
deorum, ii. 6 ; Livy, v. 15. More general expressions are agitari 
Deo, xars'^idSai rov &so\J. Hence, too, the name pavrtg, from 
fta!vo/ (on the etymon, see Curtius, Grundzuge, i. n. 429), which 
expression is then certainly transferred to every kind of divina- 
tion. In Cicero (De div. i. 6) we find a twofold genus divinandi 
distinguished, the first of which was artificial, the second natural. 
To the former technical class belong all mechanical observations 
of signs ; to the latter, among others, mantism proper, in which 
the spirit is excited by higher power. Only the latter will bear 
comparison, to a certain extent, with Hebrew prophecy. 
NOTE B. Such a demon is called nix or. ^yT, the Knower, 

minister of knowledge, yet not the same as JU = diviner, cf. 

wise woman, etc. (Gesenius, Delitzsch), but originally (like 
applying to the spirit (so Fiirst, Concordance) who conveys 
knowledge (cf. Bafauv, according to Plato = duqpuv, cf. nvduv), and 
then transferred to the 2ix bj?3, 1 Sam. xxviii. 3, 9, and often. 2iN 
is variously derived, from 21S, to be holloio (whence skin-bottle), 
then to sound dull (Gesenius, Delitzsch), because the departed 
spirit has a hollow, dull voice, speaking from the bowels of the 
earth. Cf. Isa. xxix. 4. On the other hand, according to Lenor- 
mant, 516 f., Scholz, 91 : the Accadian ubi. In Deut. xviii. 11 the 
interrogating the dead is distinguished from the ob and yid'oni. 
Still, according to 1 Sam. xxviii. (cf. Isa. viii. 19), the two are so 
closely connected that the ob or yid'oni (i.e. the conjuring spirit) 
formed the medium through which its possessor could conjure up 
the dead at pleasure. 

3. The Kingdom of God as the Subject of Biblical Prophecy. 

The material characteristics of Biblical prophecy are in 
harmony with the formal ones specified in 1. If the prophet 
sees what the Lord reveals to him and speaks to men as God's 
organ, it is to be expected that his announcement will have the 
will of God for its subject, so far as God sees fit to make it 
known to His Church, but may also contain everything received 
by the Church as God's will. In point of fact, God's entire 
revelation to Israel is traced back to the message of prophets. 
This is the case above all with the fundamental Torah, by which 
God regulated and ordered the life of the nation in accordance 
with His will. Moses is first of all a prophet. 1 And all the 

1 Hos. xii. 13. 


many-sidedness of the Torah, containing indiscriminately general 
ethical commands alongside judicial and ritual laws, precepts 
for personal life alongside public ordinances, finds its unity 
precisely in the principle of the theocracy, which is absolutely 
supreme over civil as well as religious life, over individuals as 
well as the community, over externals as well as over the inner 
life of every member of the sacred nation. As certainly as this 
legislation, traced back by the whole of tradition to primitive 
prophetic revelation, was regarded as an expression of God's 
will, so certainly must subsequent prophecy be based upon it 
and essentially agree with it. 1 Of. Deut. xiii. 1-3 : If a 
prophet, legitimatized even by miracles, set himself in opposition 
to the fundamental law of the theocracy, his word was to go 
for nothing. The will of God, who had planted His kingdom 
among this people, could only remain in force, reveal and realize 
itself more and more fully, by the Lord raising up through His 
Spirit further witnesses to the same, who should vivify, com- 
plete, and deepen the incomplete and often misunderstood law. 
Moreover, the rule of God was to prevail in a very different extent 
and intensity from what was the case in that establishment of 
the divine nationality which was always imperfectly carried out, 
and always to some extent remained an ideal. None but these 
speakers of God could discern and announce God's will beyond 
those limits. 

As prophecy had God's previous revelations for its basis, so 
it had the glory of the Supreme and the carrying out of His 
will (i.e. His rule, His kingdom) for its goal. "What is made 
known to the seers can never be knowledge devoid of this divine 
ground and aim. 2 A clairvoyance without such consecration, 
a divination 3 in the service of human curiosity or earthly gain, 
would be as different from Biblical prophecy as heathenism 
from God's kingdom. The Bible is so far from regarding all 

1 In reference to the relation of prophecy to the law, cf. C. J. Bredenkamp, Geactz 
und Propheten, ein Seitrag zur A. T. Kritik, 1881. 

2 A certain overlooking of the specific cause and higher aim of the miraculous 
vision of the prophets might perhaps not seldom be found among the great super- 
ficial crowd ; cf. 1 Sam. ix. 9. The same thing meets us in our Lord's miracles. 

3 Our phraseology distinguishes the "prophesying" that is the product of 
noble, divine inspiration from the mechanical "divining," that in any case is not 
inspired by any ideal power. This distinction certainly has no etymological ground ; 
cf. Hofmaun, Weissaijinnj und ErfiiUung, i. p. 12. 


supernatural knowledge and power as truly divine that it is 
aware of demonic divining and diabolic miracles. But the 
same divine causality and purpose in prophecy that excludes 
everything having no reference to the rule of God, gives it also 
a breadth of action in correspondence with the absoluteness of 
its author. The prophet is able to receive disclosures respecting 
Israel and heathen nations, the past and future, nature and 
history, inasmuch as all space and time are under the control of 
his God. He can announce the general moral law obligatory on 
all men, as well as foreannounce the fate of a particular person. 
Thus in prophecy the outward is not severed from the inward, 
the spiritual from the physical, the particular from the general. 
As a rule, the general appears in the form of the particular, the 
spiritual in concrete embodiment. Events are foretold in definite 
form ; their time and place are foredetermined. 

Just these particular details in prophecy, inaccessible by 
inference from general principles or other rational means, have 
always seemed to apologists of special importance in proving 
the supernatural origin of prophecy. The predictions of single 
incidental circumstances seemed the most striking. Since 
Schleiermacher, 1 the course pursued has been different. He 
distinguishes in the 0. T. prophesyings a prediction proper, 
which in its more or less definite statements possessed, now 
a higher, now a lower degree of accuracy, from the Messianic 
prophecy, in which the prophets had risen above the particular 
to set forth the universal, and in which the particular state- 
ments were more or less mere clothing. In the same manner 
in our days only the ethico-religious ideas and views are acknow- 
ledged as the real divine purport of prophecy, whilst the 
predictions, which cannot be deduced from these generalities, are 
supposed to have no theological worth, but rest at most upon an 
inexplicable faculty of presentiment. 2 

Now, except by an abuse of criticism, it cannot be denied 
that definite predictions, whose fulfilment was matter of fact, 
even as regards their supposed indifferent form, are frequently 
found in 0. T. prophecy ; and we have already seen that 
the authority of the prophets, their reputation as divine 

1 Der christliche Glaube, 4th ed. 103, 3. 

2 Cf. e.g. H. Sclmltz, A. T. Thcologie, 2nd ed. p. 231 ff. ; A. Dillmann in 
SchenkePs Bibdlexikon, iv. 613 ff. 


speakers, depended as a rule on such fulfilment, even as they 
were also attested by miraculous signs. Examples of such con- 
crete predictions are not merely to be met with in ancient times, 
when prophecy had " not yet purged itself of its magical elements," 
but run through the entire history of prophecy. 1 In the same 
way the prophets appear as miracle-workers, not merely in times 
" obscured by myths " (Moses), or in " narratives adorned with 
myths " (Elijah, Elisha), but also in the properly classical period 
of prophecy and in passages unassailable by criticism ; cf. Isa. 
vii. 11, viii. 18. 

The latter point concerns us no further here. On the other 
hand, in presence of the former fact we are confronted with the 
question : Can we in Hebrew prophecy distinguish two quite 
heterogeneous powers first, the genuinely prophetic spirit resting 
on deep, ethico - religious conviction, and then alongside it a 
mantic faculty of presentiment having nothing to do with 
religion ? Such a severance is impracticable, because to the 
prophetic seer the vision is thoroughly homogeneous. He has 
neither first of all settled by rational methods his general prin- 
ciples, nor received any information outside his ethico-religious 
fellowship with God. Instead, then, of resolving this unity into 
a dualism of inexplicable composition, it is in any case more 
pertinent to seek a higher unity between what seems to our 
modern modes of thought to belong to heterogeneous spheres. 
This unity is found in the God, who is not only the source 
of the truth, but also controls its realization in all its parts, 
the living God, to whom there is no difference of outward and 
inward, necessary and accidental, who just as much rules nature 
and history in their apparently accidental details as He is the 
legislator of universal morality, and the author of the inmost, 
holiest feelings. This unity is the vital condition of prophecy. 
On it rests the truth of its entire contents. For by no means 
is its aim merely to deduce general intellectual and moral 
truths from particular, and, in their form, accidental facts. But 
its main purport is to seek the realization in fact of the entire 
truth of God. The meaning of "the kingdom of the Lord" 
is, that He will prove Himself ruler in the whole domain of life, 

1 Cf. e.g. Moses (Ex. vii. ff.), Elijah (1 Kings xvii.), Amos (vii. 17), Isaiah 
(vii. 8, 16, xvi. 14, xxi. 16, xxxvii. 33, xxxviii., xxxix.), Micah (iii. 12, iv. 10) 
Jeremiah (xxv., xxvii. , xxviii.), Ezekiel (xii., xxi.). 


thoroughly penetrating and controlling His people and the world. 
In this process even the phenomenal form cannot be accidental. 

But if the Bible is right in its position, that the contents of 
prophecy are not the result of merely finite factors, such as 
are found in the prophet as an individual gifted with intelligence 
and moral consciousness, but that a higher spiritual factor, not 
bound to human limits, fructifies him, it cannot be required that 
the inner unity of the phenomenal form of the divine kingdom 
shall be known to him. Certainly the divine dignity of a 
particular prophecy does not lie in its foreannouncing something 
beyond the reach of man's knowledge, just as little as the divine 
character of a miracle is proved by its violating natural laws. 
As the miracles wrought by God are no isolated, arbitrary viola- 
tions of the earthly order of life, but have their internal grounds, 
in virtue of which they fit into a higher plan, so is it with the 
disclosures which prophecy makes about the future. They must 
be rooted in the supreme will, which expresses itself also in 
ethical laws and revelations. The mistake is only when this 
unity is postulated in the consciousness of the prophet, i.e. when 
everything that does not follow of necessity from those general 
principles and maxims in accordance with the prophet's human 
perception is disparaged as non-essential in the prophecy and 
accidental in the fulfilment. It is essentially the same mistake 
as when a particular miracle, for which sufficient internal reasons 
are not found, is critically rejected, as if its higher justification 
must always approve itself to our limited, subjective perception. 

If, then, prophecy in general is an announcing of the divine 
will, and has the realizing of that will for its contents, it is clear 
that no sharp severance is practicable between past, present, and 
future, or between special and general, Messianic and other 
prophetic oracles. The theocracy, which comes into external 
existence with Moses, and which reached a provisional conclusion 
in the occupation of the land designed for it and the installa- 
tion of the God-anointed king, is the subject of all prophecy. 
But, thanks to prophecy, its development never halts, but is 
always the goal of promise in still more perfect form. And 
although from the multitude of divine oracles, announcing the 
carrying out of God's will on the basis of the existing form of 
God's kingdom, a selection may be made of such as relate to the 
real building up of that kingdom, still the latter grow out of the 


former, because God's revealed will is one at every stage. For 
example, a single judgment by its inner unity is a member of the 
general one, and judgment in general paves the way for a higher 
revelation. And in virtue of this inner unity it is permissible to 
combine oracles that indicate an advance in the realization of 
God's kingdom or depict it in its future development and com- 
pletion. These have usually been called " Messianic," because 
the Messiah (i.e. the anointed king of David's house) is the medium 
through whom the perfect state of this kingdom will be introduced. 
Certainly in this case one is compelled to give the word a more 
general meaning alongside the obvious one, since the person of 
the Messiah by no means appears in all the oracles, where the 
completion of God's kingdom is spoken of. For this reason we 
prefer the designation chosen in our title, " The Prophecy of the 
Completion of the Kingdom of God." 

As from the beginning the divine will encounters in the world 
resistance, which it has first to overcome in order to work itself 
out, this conquest forms an essential ingredient in the prophecy of 
God's kingdom. It is the judgment of the world. But as the 
proper end of the divine ways is the salvation of His people under 
His rule, every judgment can only serve as a means to make 
room for the redemption which from the beginning is the subject 
of the promise. Nevertheless, menace of judgment and promise of 
redemption are not so distributed that the former applies only to 
the heathen world, the latter exclusively and unconditionally to 
the chosen people. On the contrary, Israel, because of its actual 
state, falls more and more under prophetic condemnation, whilst 
at the same time the outer world, so far as it turns to the salva- 
tion of the God of Israel, is more and more definitely received 
into God's purpose of grace. The completion of the former era is 
summed up in the favourite phrase, " Day of the Lord." This 
includes the perfect revelation of the Lord to the world, above all 
in His retributive justice ; on which account the Day of the Lord 
is the reckoning-day for all nations, when their sins will be 
repaid them, while upon Israel also the righteous will of its Lord 
will be carried out in punishment. The goal of God's gracious 
purpose, which enters in close connection with that judgment- 
day, is expressed by the designation " Kingdom of the Lord" or 
by the dwelling of Yahveh in the midst of His Church. The 
kingdom of the Lord is the full working out of His will in the 


world, the dwelling of God among His people in most intimate 
fellowship with them. Both coincide in so far as the ultimate 
aim of God's will is to live in fullest communion with His Church 
upon earth, into which all mankind destined to salvation have 
been received, and so to wield upon earth an undisputed sway. 

4. Influence of the Age on the Prophecy of God's Kingdom. 

As the individuality of the prophet is not without a shapin^ 
influence on prophecy (p. 9), so also his prophecy clothes itself in 
conceptions common to him with his contemporaries. It bears 
the stamp of the age. While this is a limit to it on one hand, 
on the other it is the indispensable condition of the fulfilment of 
its design. Prophecy is meant in the first instance to serve God's 
will in the present, to contribute to its realization. But this is 
only possible if, and in so far as, it is intelligible to contem- 
poraries. Thus it links its promises to existing circumstances 
and tendencies, sometimes to living persons, causing them to see 
God's kingdom through their own experiences. It serves its own 
age, although not exhausted in it, but stretching beyond it. 
Thus it pictures God's perfected kingdom still with national 
limits and colours. Mount Zion is the centre to which all 
nations journey to worship, because at the time God's kingdom 
was national and local in character, and in the first instance the 
chief point was that all nations should do homage to the God 
then worshipped on Zion. Just so the prophecy of the coming 
divine ruler attached itself in the post - exilian age (Hag., 
Zech.) to Zerubbabel as the actual Davidic ruler. The old 
hereditary foes Egypt, Moab, Edom, etc. are named as the 
foes who will fall before God's kingdom. Nor are these temporal 
forms to be regarded as a conscious accommodation of the prophet 
to his hearers ; but they were the forms in which the future 
presented itself even to him. An artificial dress is nowhere 
found. On this point what was said in 1 about the nature of 
prophetic perception should be recalled. The prophet sees the 
future generally, but not always, in visions. These are homo- 
geneous figures, made up more or less of sensuous elements. But 
this fact necessitates the use of temporally given forms, with their 
inevitable limitation. Nor is it the way of these seers to add 
reflections respecting such visions and their significance. The 


very intensity, indeed, of the figure, too feeble to sustain its idea, 
points beyond it. And again, the limitation is supplemented and 
corrected by other views of the same thing, often granted to the 
same seer. The case is the same here as in the parabolic 
presentation of the kingdom of heaven in the New Testament. 
There one figure can only present the subject on one side, and 
needs to be supplemented by other figures. Thus, since the 
N. T. parables treating of the kingdom of heaven only exhibit it 
on one side, they must be put together if a correct view of the 
whole is to be obtained, When, e.g., the kingdom of heaven 
(Matt. xiii. 47) is compared to a Fishing-net, in which at first 
good and bad fish are caught indiscriminately, the intended 
teaching is, that not merely those finally chosen partake in the 
kingdom at first. But it would be an error to think that the 
partakers in it are quite passive in receiving it, as might be con- 
cluded from following the figure out in a one-sided way. The 
correction is supplied by parables like that of the Banquet 
(Matt. xxii. 2 ff.), where we learn that all the invited do not obey 
the call. The case is similar with prophecy. According to Isa. 
xi. 14, Zech. ix. 13 ff., and many other passages, we might 
think that the perfecting of God's kingdom will be brought about 
by force of arms. But other visions, perhaps of the same prophet 
(Isa. ix. 6 f. ; Zech. ix. 9 f.), which picture the Perfecter of the king- 
dom as simply a Prince of peace, show that these martial images 
denote the triumph of the power of the Divine Spirit. Thus these 
prophecies need to be combined, that they may supplement 
each other and even correct their own one-sided representations. 

But in order to understand its concrete form, the visionary 
character of prophecy dwelt on in 1 needs to be taken into 
account. Since the concrete form offered itself naturally to the 
seer in his presentation even of spiritual things, one may some- 
times be in doubt how far he himself regarded his plastic 
description as symbolic, or unconsciously supplied a more sen- 
suous conception as a substratum to the abstract idea. For 
example, in Zech. ix. 9, apart from the fulfilment, one might be 
in doubt whether the prophet really expected the Davidic king 
upon an ass, or consciously viewed this trait as a mere symbol 
of a King of peace. But, in general, it must be remembered that 
in prophecy proper reflection remained in the background. The 
prophet relates what he sees, without himself intending to dis- 


tinguish between contents and means of presentation. How far 
what is described will literally be fulfilled, tbe event only can 

In the same way, later times must show how far what is seen 
will take shape in the precise local or temporal unity in which it 
was presented to the prophet. Obadiah sees a complete devas- 
tation and destruction of Edom. Whether, now, this will take 
place in the special form in which he sees it, or whether only 
the idea is to be retained, that this hostile nation will utterly 
disappear, whilst imperilled Israel will live on, on this point no 
information is to be expected from the seer. In the same way, 
whether the doom of annihilation will be executed at a blow, or 
distribute itself over a series of catastrophes, a Persian, Macca- 
bsean, Eoman one, the fulfilment only can tell. To the import of 
the message of retribution it is indifferent. The message becomes 
even more emphatic and effective when that which in reality 
spreads itself over a longer space of time is compressed into one 

Hence the so-called perspective character of prophecy. As the 
low-lying intervals are concealed from the bodily eye, only the 
heights of a district combining into a picture bounded by the 
highest peaks, so the seer beholds the lofty points of history in 
their harmonious connection, and indeed only up to a certain 
horizon, which represents the termination of the course of spiritual 
development in the midst of which ths prophet stands. This 
horizon is called E^'D n<l "!D.^, not = the following age, the 
future, but = the end of the days, the last age. The idea relates 
rather to things than time : the termination of the course of 
things surrounding the prophet ; for this reason also the " end " 
is nearer or farther according to the range of the motive engaging 
the prophet ; but the prophecy is always exhausted within these 
limits. Now, in the prophetic picture nearer heights touch this 
highest peak of consummation ; only when they emerge in 
history is it seen that an interval lies between them and the 
final consummation. 

As, then, all the words and work of the prophets obtain their 
unity through their reference to the divine rule, so also the 
prophecies relating to the consummation in the future are bound 
together by the living idea of the coming of God's perfected rule. 
But this idea unfolds itself gradually out of seminal beginnings to 



more and more definite and rich, but also more pure, forms. Thus 
prophecy has a history, which implies two things its progressive 
growth and abiding unity. 

Not at once was the news of a future kingdom of God com- 
municated to the believing people as a complete doctrine. To 
this the people would not have been at all receptive. But that 
particular aspect of the Messianic future was always disclosed 
to them which they needed to know, the discovery being in 
proportion to their sense of need. But the need was not always 
the same. The receptiveness, indicative of advance or growth, 
rose and fell from time to time, while the highest, boldest thoughts 
of God always had to make way for what could be understood by 
a generation of more limited spiritual culture. 

Between the outward history of the nation and the develop- 
ment of its most sacred hopes an intimate connection existed, 
the two being bound up with the nation's spiritual life and 
ordered by the same God. Hofmann, indeed, goes too far in 
making the prophecy so dependent on the history, that the former 
is merely the interpreter of the latter i.e. puts into words the 
knowledge which ought at any time to be gathered from God's 
historical revelation. On the contrary, prophecy, issuing freely 
from the Divine Spirit, is often far in advance of history, an- 
nouncing really new things. But the outward experiences of 
Israel negatively prepared the ground for prophecy, and posi- 
tively furnished it with material. Positively they enlarged its 
range of vision. As long, e.g., as geographical and ethnological 
knowledge was narrowly limited, only a limited conception of 
the divine rule upon earth could be formed. But when the 
great world-empires the Assyrian, Babylonian, Persian came 
on the stage before the eyes of Israel, prophecy first really 
gained wings, and the future of God's kingdom, before which all 
this power and glory was to fade, shone all the brighter to the 
eyes of believers. In the same way, familiarity with nobler 
heathens like the Persians exerted a fructifying influence on 
prophecy, the hearts of the people now becoming more receptive 
to the thought expressed long before, that Israel had a lofty 
mission to discharge even to the heathen. In Israel itself the 
erection of the Davidic kingdom laid the historic foundation 
for a new upbuilding of prophecy. But every mighty act of 
God, every conquest, every conflict of deeper significance, served 


as a finger-post in the ways of God, broadening and facilitating 
the insight both of seers and hearers into His leadings and 

Such events as made inroads on the wellbeing of the theo- 
cracy and community, or seemed to make an end of it, had 
negative effects, opening the way for prophecy. When the whole 
existence of the commonwealth was in question, and its destruc- 
tion was certain to the enlightened after brief respite, prophecy 
was moved to its boldest utterances. The ruins of the old theo- 
cracy awakened painful longing for the building of the new one. 
Mourning over past glory turned into yearning for a glorious 
future. Moreover, the sense of inadequate fulfilment impelled 
to new hopes of a perfecting future e.g. after the exile. Even 
the Christian Church is driven to the word of prophecy chiefly 
in times when it is made painfully conscious how little present 
conditions correspond to God's perfect will. 

Under the joint operation of all these motives the prophetic 
voices spoke now louder, now softer now more clearly, now 
more obscurely. But their discourses were not the work of the 
spirit of the age, but of the one Spirit of God. For the prophets 
were always conscious to themselves of carrying forward some- 
thing begun long before, of developing further something existing. 
Hence they frequently resumed oracles of predecessors ; and cer- 
tain fundamental ideas like the Day of the Lord, the Kingdom 
of God and His Coming were transmitted from one generation 
to another, only gaining in significance with time. Thus a 
progress from indefinite to definite, from mere intimation to 
declaration, from sensuous to spiritual, is evident in prophecy. 
The promise is specialized ; it is linked first to Shem, next to 
Abraham, then to Isaac, Jacob, the tribe of Judah, and finally to 
the Davidic royal house, and is last of all transferred to a par- 
ticular scion of the same. According to Jacob's blessing the 
kingdom of God was still altogether external, distinguished by 
external power and external abundance at God's hand. But 
the idea of the future holy land and people, the city of Zion, etc., 
grew more and more profound, until the outward form became too 
weak to bear its weight, and the sensuously fashioned concep- 
tions were no longer tenable. Such is the case in Isa. xi., where 
in the mountain of the Lord the wolf dwells with the lamb, etc.. 
and (Isa. Ix.) where it is said of the city of God : The sun shall 


no more be thy light by day, and the light of the moon shall 
no longer shine on thee, but Yahveh shall be thy everlasting 
light. Here the sensuous veil bursts under the spiritual glory 
streaming through it. So in many other visions. If we concede 
a progress to more perfect spiritual heights, we would not, on the 
other hand (like G. Baur, p. 27), describe it as progress from 
error to truth. As certainly as prophecy is a divine word, it 
always contains divine truth, so far as truth can and ought to be 
comprehended at the existing standpoint. All genuine pedagogy 
takes this course. It does not indeed teach the truth from the 
beginning in adequate form, but it never inculcates error as 
the initial stage of higher knowledge. 

After what has been said on the inner connection of the 
development of the prophecy of God's kingdom with the outward 
history of the nation, it is of course to be expected that the great 
epochs of the nation's history will be epoch-making for prophecy, 
and that the several periods of the outward will be distinguishable 
in the inner development. In fact, the most suitable division of 
our subject is according to the chief phases of Israelitish history. 
First of all the long period of the forming of the people and 
kingdom is to be marked off, reaching a climax with the comple- 
tion of the kingdom in the Davidic-Solomonic age. From this 
point the decline of the regal power begins. In prophecy these 
two periods are distinguished in the most marked way. In the 
former are found merely single oracles, addresses, songs of pro- 
phetic import, which sing and speak of a future glorious consum- 
mation passages about whose date critics differ widely. In the 
second appear entire prophetic books, the kernel of which is 
Messianic prophecy. In the former period it is more the shaping 
and completing of the kingdom that floats before the gaze of the 
prophetic seers ; while in the second redemption forms the bright 
background of the destroying judgment, which must precede the 
true consummation. In the earlier period divine deeds prepon- 
derate over divine words ; the types are far more elaborate than 
the prophecy, the outer history has the advantage over the inner. 
In the later period the reverse is the case : prophecy is in 
advance of history ; the types are more and more absorbed into 
the prophecy ; word is mightier than deed. 1 The transition cer- 
tainly is not sudden. E.rj. Elijah and Elisha, although belonging 
1 Cf. Auberlen, Jahrb. fur daitsche Theologie, iii. 4, p. 779 f. 


to the period of the decline of the Israelitish royalty, are still 
men of deeds, not of words. 

We thus distinguish two main periods. In the first the pro- 
phetic word inaugurates the origin and shaping of the concrete 
rule of God on earth. From the grey fore-time we catch 
patriarchal benedictions transmitted by tradition. In the Mosaic 
epoch we observe forward glances into the future of the theo- 
cracy. Then Samuel crowned his work in Israel by giving the 
nation the " Anointed of the Lord," whose prophetic significance 
is also reflected in many psalms. The second main period again 
divides itself according to political epochs. First, we have 
prophetic writings from the pre-Assyrian age, Obadiah, Joel ; 
then from the Assyrian, Amos, Hosea, Zech. ix.-xi., Isaiah, Micah, 
Nahum. Zephaniah and Habakkuk form the transition to the 
period of the Chaldsean rule ; then follows the time when the 
kingdom of Judah is in full course of decline. To this belong 
Jeremiah and Zech. xii.-xiv. Ezekiel and Isa. xl.-lxvi. speak in 
the exile. The dissolution of the sacred commonwealth again 
introduces a turning-point. From the beginning of prophecy 
in the stricter sense, that is, from the age which gives us entire 
prophetic books up to that catastrophe, the announcement of 
judgment stands everywhere in the foreground, the promise form- 
ing merely the bright background, since the redemption of God's 
people can only appear after the overthrow of the previous 
theocracy. On the other hand, after the catastrophe the promise 
emerges without anything to obscure it, forming the main subject 
of prophecy. So in the later visions of Jeremiah and Ezekiel, as 
well as in Isa. xl.-lxvi. After the exile the promise remains in 
the foreground (Haggai, Zechariah) ; still the earnest warning 
against the judicial severity of the " Day of the Lord " is not 
wanting (Malachi). The apocalypse of Daniel fills a special posi- 
tion, unfolding in grand perspective the triumph of the kingdom 
of God over the world-empires. 

5. The Office, of Type, in the Development of God's Kingdom. 

Besides prophecies, types also bear witness in the Old 
Testament to the future completion of the kingdom of God on 
earth. Prophecy and type must be distinguished from each 
other. By Type (note A) we understand the inadequate pre- 


sentation of a divine idea, which is to be more perfectly realized 
afterwards. The Spirit of God not only reveals Himself in 
definite words, which He suggests to consecrated seers. He also 
rules in history, shaping it with significant reference to the future. 

In modern days natural philosophers have established in detail 
the designed connection in the structures of different periods. 
Thus the most perfect being man presents himself first in im- 
perfect preformation in the animals which, the higher their grade, 
so much the more plainly prefigure the structure of man. Just 
so there are types in history. Not at once does an idea appear 
in complete realization. Hofmann says : " Every triumphal 
procession that marched through the streets of Eome was a 
prophecy " (in our view rather a type) " of Cffisar Augustus ; for 
what the latter represented always, this the Triumphator repre- 
sented on his festival-day God in man, Jupiter in the Roman 
citizen. In according this pageant to its victors, Eome pro- 
claimed as its future, that it would rule the world through its 
divinely-worshipped imperator." ] This very example shows the 
essential distinction between type and prophecy. For a Roman 
rhetorician or poet to greet in such a triumphator the future 
ruler of the world on the Tiber, might perhaps be regarded as 
prophecy. But, dumb and unconscious as such a type is in 
reference to the very fact that it is a type, it lacks an essential 
mark which, according to 1, cannot be wanting to prophecy. 
Not merely is speech, the proper element of prophecy, absent, 
on which account the type has been called concrete prophecy 2 
in distinction from verbal prophecy (Kurtz) ; the profounder 
contrast lies in this, that the type is still unrecognised by con- 
temporaries in its reference to the future, the necessity of a more 
perfect embodiment of the idea it contains not being declared. 
Utterances also may be typical, so far as their contents will only 
attain complete realization afterwards in a way unknown to the 

Although now in human history such preformations are as 
little purely accidental as in the history of nature, they have yet 
deeper reasons in the history of redemption, according to w r hat 
was said of its character in 3. Of course it is a mistake to 
assume a type on the ground of mere outward similarity, as the 
ancient Church often did. Both phenomena the typical and 

1 Weissaguny und Erfiillung, i. 1 5. 2 Realweissayung. 


perfect must have received from the same Spirit their distinctive 
character, by which they resemble each other, so that an inner 
relation obtains between them. And as certainly as the form of 
the Israelitish nationality was meant by God's will to present 
a preliminary reign of God, so an inner relation must exist 
between this still imperfect kingdom of God and the perfect one, 
which always remained future in the Old Testament. And this 
inner affinity will necessarily find expression also in the outer life 
of this nationality, so far as that life is determined by God. 
Not merely the ritual and polity of Israel, so far as they are 
ordered by God, its experiences also, so far as these befall it as 
God's people, will by inner necessity present beforehand what 
awaits God's perfected people, provided it is the same God who 
reveals His will, here preliminarily, there finally. Accordingly 
different classes of types may be conceived archaeological and 
historical, personal and national. To the archaeological belongs in 
particular the whole complex of ritual types. The Israelitish 
ritual, as practised generally from the days of Moses, is pre- 
dominantly symbolic. And as the symbol always expresses an 
idea but imperfectly, so it is here. But the ideas, partially 
veiled, partially announcing themselves plainly, are those of 
God's perfect revelation ; a truth which cannot surprise us if we 
receive the testimony, according to which this form of divine 
worship was not of natural growth or arbitrary institution, but 
rested on divine revelation. Only the typical action did not 
necessarily give to human consciousness the thought of a future, 
more complete method of salvation. The idea of vicarious 
expiation is central to Christianity. It is imaged already in the 
0. T. expiatory sacrifice, of course but inadequately, inasmuch 
as animal life can be no valid substitute for man's. But the 
Levitical priest might long continue to lead his sacrificial animal 
to the altar, before becoming aware that his act was inadequate, 
having its justification only in something future to which it 
pointed. Israel's symbolic ritual is pervaded by such ideas, 
which had to acquire their full import afterwards. On the other 
hand, there is an historic type (e.g.] in the departure of Israel from 
Egypt, joined with the destruction of the hostile army, inasmuch 
as here the deliverance of God's holy Church from the yoke of 
the ungodly world-power is first presented. Moreover, personal 
types not seldom occur. David presents the idea of a ruler 


standing in filial relation to God and governing in His name. 
But the divine-human government of David is still a thoroughly 
imperfect realization of this lofty idea. 

Such types are meant first of all in their imperfection to 
render familiar the idea expressed in them, and thus to prepare 
for their adequate manifestation. But a mediate stage between 
the beginning and completion is found when these types are 
seen in their prefigurative significance, and pass over into 
prophecy. Thus Isa. liii. 10 speaks of a sin-offering, and (ver. 7) 
of a lamb atoning for guilt by voluntary suffering. Here the 
idea of this sacrificial lamb is transferred to a more perfect 
bearer the Servant of God. Just so prophecy often applied the 
departure from Egypt to the future, promising a final deliverance 
of the Church from bondage, and setting forth this divine act 
with the well-known features taken from the Egyptian days. 
Cf. the antitype of the Egyptian plagues, Rev. viii., ix. Finally, 
David was so well known as a type of the Messiah icar 
e^o^v, that the prophets expressly call the king of the final 
perfecting age David, Hos. iii. 5 ; Jer. xxx. 9. Here therefore 
the type, lending a voice to the prophetic word, enters into our 
proper province. And as the express prophetic word had led 
the way in applying the past to the future, the thought of the 
Church felt itself called upon to understand the historic form 
of the God-anointed king in general typically, and to interpret 
his experiences as mirroring future experiences, turning his songs 
and words into prophecies. 

NOTE A. The expression is borrowed from K T. phraseology, 
where it often occurs in this special application, rvxos, properly 
Now (from T-JXTU), signifies primarily the impression of a bloi'\ 
mark (John xx. 25) ; hence definite stamp (therefore also the 
style of a letter, Acts xxiii. 25 ; of a doctrine, Rom. vi. 17 ; 
image, figure, copy, idol, Acts vii. 43). Then especially type, and 
both (a) the ideal model, Acts vii. 44, Heb. viii. 5, and (b) the 
ethical pattern, type of virtue, Phil. iii. 17 ; 1 Thess. i. 7 ; 2 Thess. 
iii. 9 ; 1 Tim. iv. 12 ; Tit. ii. 7; 1 Pet. v. 3; but finally also (c) the 
historic type of something future, Rom. v. 14; 1 Cor. x. 6, 11 ; and 
according to these passages the design of the type is to prefigure 
the future, therefore to point to it as something more complete. 
The correlative idea to rucoj is rb WTITUKOV, the antitype, and may 
either denote a secondary copy of lower value, corresponding to 
the type (a) (Heb. ix. 24), or the more perfect counterpart to 
the type (c) (1 Pet, iii. 21). 


6. Are Phenomena analogous to the Prophecy of God's Kingdom 
to be found in the field of Heathenism ? 

Before going further, we raise this question, which is well 
adapted to give us a true conception of the difference of Biblical 
prophecy from all other literature. The ancient Church was 
fond of adducing the Sibyls of the heathen world alongside the 
prophets of Israel as witnesses to the future kingdom of God. 
Did mantism, then, really produce anything like the seers of 
Yahveh ? On the contrary, the complete superiority of the 
latter is seen most plainly when we compare the products of 
their prophesying, the spirit and substance of their communications, 
with what the heathen oracles and prophets produced. Even the 
prevailing form of the oracle is indicative of the spirit of such 
revelation. No doubt it was a pious desire which the heathen 
felt for divine revelations. Their Seia-iBai/jiovta left them no 
rest until they had inquired into the will of the gods, and 
assured themselves of their assistance in every undertaking. 
Sine divino numine nihil this principle ruled their hearts. But 
in the mantism current almost everywhere in ancient heathenism, 
as described 2, the initiative significantly belonged to man ; he 
asked whenever he pleased ; he managed the communications of 
the deity ; whereas the genuine prophets of Israel as a rule 
raised their voices unasked and unsought, and very often made 
themselves heard when and where it was least expected and 
desired, on the other hand always returning negative answers to 
questions of curiosity and impatience. As it is a general 
characteristic of heathenism, especially the Indo-Germanic, for 
the normal relation between God and man to be gradually 
inverted, what is divine being made subservient to human ends, 
so we find in the case of oracles. The entire oracle-system was 
far more serviceable to human, perhaps political interest, than to 
the deity, and readily became an instrument of mere political 
craft. And although in favourable circumstances it might be the 
minister of a healthy moral sense, as the Delphic oracle was for 
a long time, still it only represented the natural conscience of 
the people, not a spiritual power independent of this as Biblical 
prophecy did, 1 which against princes and peoples, and without 
respect of person and regard to ordinary interests, often assumed 

1 Jer. i. 17 ff. 


an attitude to the questions of life incomprehensible to the 
natural order of thought. It did this, because it represented 
simply and solely the cause of God, whose organ it was. The 
utterances of these prophets often stand in boldest antithesis to 
the spirit of their age, to the moods of their people, nay, even of 
their own hearts. In appearance they withstand patriotism, the 
advantage of their country, the honour of their nation. They 
bow down before no human greatness, not before the most famous 
kings of the present and past, judging everything inexorably by a 
uniform standard loftier than the natural conscience of the nation. 
They are conscious of one aim which they all proclaim with one 
accord and immovable certainty in the most diverse ages and 
circumstances, despite all differences of individual inclination and 
gifts. " This unison," says Delitzsch, 1 " is the seal of divine 
revelation as the work of one and the same Spirit in the labora- 
tories of many individuals." Criticism has the right and the 
scientific task of classifying these prophetic voices according to 
the character of the age and individual. But if it does not 
detect the grand elevation and unity of the spiritual force 
which set in motion all these tongues in the course of the 
centuries, it is dull and incapable of discerning the divine. 
Compared with this, what sort of products are offered by 
heathenism, which likewise boasts of divine revelations ? What 
disorder and uncertainty, what a mingling of truth and deception 
meets us everywhere, directly we seek information respecting the 
divine ! And how insignificant the little offered us as a specially 
memorable product of the Delphic god or CumaBan sibyl ! 

If all unprejudiced examination of 0. T. prophecy proves its 
unique character, it may still be asked whether the Sibyl is 
altogether disqualified as a witness to the kingdom of God. 
Certainly what the ancient Church used under the name of the 
" sibylline books " as a witness of heathenism to Christ, was not 
a product of heathen mantism, but an almost worthless imitation 
of Biblical prophecy, such as was practised by Jews in the last 
centuries before Christ and then passed over to Christians. 2 At 
most, some remnants of the lost sibylline (i.e. heathen) oracles 
may be interwoven therein. Such an oracle is found in Virgil's 
fourth Eclogue, which will be spoken of afterwards. Moreover, 

1 Comm. on Habakkuk, p. 119. 

2 Cf. the article " Sibyllinen," in Herzog's R.E. 


the other literature of heathen nations, distinguished by such 
great works, should be examined to see whether it can supply a 
substitute for what 0. T. prophecy was to the Israelites and then 
to the Church of the New Covenant. Above all, the comparison 
may be made with respect to historians. If an unrivalled 
moral independence must be ascribed to the Biblical narrators, 
their style is also quite specially distinguished by the way in 
which they connect earthly things with the divine government. 
History to them, owing to the divine plan ruling in it, is really 
homogeneous, and moves towards a definite goal. An Herodotus, 
Plutarch, Tacitus, know indeed of a higher pragmatism than that 
of mechanical occurrence ; they point out, each one in his own 
way, higher laws coming into play in history. But in how much 
loftier a style do the prophetic historians of the Bible write 
history ! Here is found a uniform derivation of all human 
history from one origin, a uniform standard of judgment, here 
only the consciousness of a uniform positive progress in the 
whole course of the world's development. Whilst ancient Egypt 
in its monuments sought to deify the existing, and ancient India 
regarded the dissolution of existence as the highest goal of move- 
ment, thus seeking salvation in going back to nonentity, these 
prophets, who view the past as a revelation of the living God, 
proclaim that the future will see a consummation, to which all 
history will serve as the way to the goal. 

If to-day we hear so much of a uniform progress of the 
human race and of its unceasing advance to a goal of perfection, 
we do not sufficiently consider that such knowledge and hope is 
no heirloom of classical antiquity, but a fruit of the prophetic 
spirit of the Bible. We also too little remember that this hope 
finds adequate security in supernatural revelation alone. Neither 
empiric reality, nor dialectic truth, nor iesthetic idealism can raise 
the hope to certainty. Plato, indeed, and Aristotle sketched a 
State, which floated before them as an ideal ; but that such a 
relatively perfect condition would ever become fact, they nowhere 
taught on good grounds. Plato, in a well-known passage (note A), 
gave so striking a description of the perfectly just man, who as 
such must be tested by the heaviest sufferings, that the Church 
from the earliest days 1 saw therein a prophetic picture of the 

1 From Clemens Al. (Strom. 1. v. 14, 1. vi. 7) to Db'llinger, who calls it at least a 
" presageful glance into the future " (The Gentile and the Jew, vol. i. p. 328). Such 


suffering Son of man. But, passing by the fact that the entire 
conception of the Just One in Plato is essentially different from 
that given in the Bible, it must be conceded that some traits 
are drawn with great truth, and to some extent found a literal 
fulfilment in Christ. But it must be observed, to say nothing 
of the inner difference just mentioned, that at most we have here 
only a type, standing in a line with the type of the suffering, 
misunderstood Job. For Plato scarcely thought of such a just 
man ever appearing on earth, and in any case laid no stress on 
such appearing. His image of the perfectly Just One, or the 
sketch which the Stoics give of the true sage, according to their 
view loses nothing of its truth, even if such an one never 1 
actually appears, or appears but once every 500 years (according 
to Seneca). On the contrary, prophecy stands or falls according 
as it does or does not find an adequate fulfilment. The actuality 
of the fulfilment forms an essential element in its truth. This is a 
distinction between the heathen ideal-world and Biblical realism 
that is not sufficiently considered. The element wanting to the 
former (the certainty that the perfection seen will appear in 
realization) prophecy possesses from first to last, thanks to the 
experience of God's self-revelation, which theologians again and 
again confound with conceptual knowledge ; whereas the mere 
idea of a perfect Spirit is not equivalent to His " reign " in the 
Biblical sense, i.e. His adequate revelation in the finite world. 

In comparison with Plato, the Stoic school certainly shows 
greater confidence in the realization of its ideas. Zeiio does this 
first of all. He also gives his ideal State of the future a more 
comprehensive range, perhaps not without Oriental influence. 
This State was to unite all nations into one flock, governed only 
by the law of reason. This was the goal of the world's progress, 
after which wise men were to strive. Here a view is given, 
which we do not encounter elsewhere in Hellenic antiquity. On 
the other hand, a comparison of the Stoic ideal with what is 
promised by the prophets shows at once that in it justice is not 
done to the Deity in His distinction from every creature, while the 

a glance, in far higher measure, is seen in the positive Chinese expectation of a 
" Holy One/' who will restore complete harmony between heaven and earth. See 
Confucius, Tchong-Yong, translated by Planckner, 1878. The entire translation 
has certainly been attacked (by Strauss, Essays, 1879, p. 109). 
1 Cicero, Tusc. ii. 22. 


mere enhancement of the human ends in Utopias. That the 
ideal, even apart from its realization, is inferior to the true 
perfection taught in the Bible, is evident directly we examine the 
Stoa as to its chief motive. Here it is self-righteousness, not the 
divine compassion and divine-human love, of which the wise man 
boasts, and by which perfection is sought (note B). History 
teaches that the goal will not be reached by this path, even if it 
is seen. How it is reached is shown by the New Covenant 
established ii the way described beforehand by Biblical prophecy, 
which will be treated of afterwards. 

But although since Justin Martyr's days Messianic prophecies 
and types have been often wrongly drawn from the heathen 
world by overlooking the essential distinctions in superficial 
similarities, that world is by no means without presentiments of 
the redemption that in God's counsel was to be imparted to it. 
As the reminiscence of a golden age of unruffled peace, like 
a beautiful dream, was preserved among the nations, so they 
cherished the hope that one day the vanished paradise would 
again open to them, and popular fancy painted to the best of its 
power a state in which this longing of man's heart would find 
rest. This land is either conceived as existing in some remote 
place (note C), or it is the special abode of the departed (note D), 
or the earth awaits a future glorification (note E). 

Among all the religions of civilised antiquity, it is the Parsi 
which comes nearest to the Bible, owing to its serious conception 
of life as a far-reaching, ceaseless conflict between the good and 
the evil principle. According to the teaching of Zarathushtra, 
the good conquers in the end, after the evil in the last (fourth) 
world-age had gained the upper hand, and unfolded all its 
power and enmity. 1 Here, plainly, the moral postulate asserts 
itself, which elsewhere also moves human reason to demand 
a future reconciling of the contradiction between moral and 
physical relations. Like the heart that pines for redemption, so 
conscience also requires a state of loftier order and harmony 
than is to be found during the course of earth. On the other 
hand, in distinction from the Bible, Parsism with all its ethical 
character shows a physical taint in its dualism, and hence is 
unable to take as its goal the pure glorification of everything 
earthly by the good Spirit. But in general this whole doctrine 
1 Cf. Spiegel's art. " Parsismus," in Herzog. 


rather gives the impression of an artificially elaborated system 
than of a living faith. These expectations by no means enter 
into the development of history and life with such real power as 
we find to be the case in Israel. Not Sosiosch, the expected 
" Saviour " of the seed of Zarathushtra, but the Kedeeiner of 
the seed of David, appeared to set up the divine kingdom. Still 
the eschatology of the Parsis remains a powerful witness to 
man's need of a revelation of righteousness in the world, and a 
noteworthy example of presentiment of future consummation. 

If we turn to the land of the speculatively gifted Hindus, 
there the cheerful view of life, meeting us in the Rig- Veda, soon 
gives place to a pessimism which, as in scarcely any other religion, 
proclaims to us the pining of all creation for redemption from the 
burden of existence. But neither Brahmanism nor Buddhism 
was able to supply a positive redemption. Just here lies the great 
weakness of these religions, even of Buddhism, which is so much 
praised in our days. A morality so self-denying without faith in 
the God who is the supreme Lawgiver, a love of the creature so 
comprehensive, but without hope, can never conduct man's heart 
to true peace. And it is well known that a reaction against 
overstrained demands without corresponding reward and promise 
very soon followed in Buddhism, Buddha himself, in complete 
opposition to his teaching, being made the object of deification, 
and a paradise in the future being put in place of Nirvana, of 
simple extinction. Buddha himself, as history describes him, to 
say nothing of legends, reminds us in several respects of the 
Eabbi of Nazareth ; many traits, if we may so speak, are here 
typically prefigured. The king's son, by his mere preaching, 
which is addressed to all castes and designed for all nations, 
founding a new community of enlightened ones, who give them- 
selves up completely to the service of others, is one of the most 
notable and glorious figures in all heathendom. But in order to 
speak of a real type in the Biblical sense, of a type of Christ, the 
spirit in which the one and the other came to redeem the world 
from its evils would need to be less divergent. Bringing no 
revelation of the heavenly Father and His love, Buddhism lacks 
basis and goal for its work upon earth. It points man, like 
Brahmanism, to the path of self-redemption ; and the only fruit 
of this redemption it can promise him is dissolution. In its most 
ideal representatives it labours under this defect. 


In the deifying of the person of Buddha we saw a testimony 
to man's longing for fuller union with the divine. The later 
development of Brahmanism is a proof of the same. Here we 
have, plainly under the influence of Buddhism, a series of ava- 
taras (incarnations) of the deity (Vishnu). The eighth of these, 
where Vishnu takes bodily form in Krishna, is here of special 
interest, because this genius, skilful in war and peace, is wor- 
shipped as the saviour of the Brahmans in the proper sense, and 
certain external points (such as the rhythm of the name with 
Christ, etc.) have often provoked comparison. It has seemed 
specially significant, that Krishna crushed the head of the evil 
serpent Kaliya. But on closer examination it appears that a 
cosmical, not ethical opposition is meant, and in certain parti- 
culars a borrowing from Christian tradition seems to have taken 
place. And this applies also to the treatise of the Indian sages 
showing most resemblance to Christian ideas, the Bhagavad- 
Gita. 1 If in many passages the freedom of the gospel is taught, 
in opposition to work - righteousness, the main thing is still 
wanting the gospel itself. Here, too, in this late production, 
which has often been thought to exhibit the influence of Chris- 
tianity, the old Indian spirit is to be perceived, presenting only 
a path of self-redemption. 

In this place the Norse and German mythology, as con- 
tained in the Edda, also deserves mention, inasmuch as there not 
merely a state of glorious life is set forth in true German taste, 
but also the end of the present world-age is contemplated. It 
is a testimony to the depth of the German spirit, that it did not 
ascribe eternal duration to its gods, with their finite, physical 
character. At the end of the days there follows a " twilight of 
the gods," when even they are overtaken by the fate of the 
transitory. Nevertheless, on the destruction of the world, then 
occurring, follows its rejuvenescence. But the ideal state, then 
introduced, is only intimated in several features. All evil is 
banished, and the descendants of the Asen live in harmony with 
men under the rule of the gentle Balder. The All-father is 
supreme over all. 

It would be easy to give illustrations from other religions of 
what we said at the beginning of this work of the universal 

1 Cf. the parallels, to be examined cautiously, which Lorinser gives in his 
edition, 1869. 


longing for a better state of peace with God, and for the sup- 
pression of the world's evil. But the more closely we compare 
the hope of Israel with these poetical dreams or systematic 
teachings, the more striking appears the contrast, here an un- 
certain seeking and groping, there a firm possession ; here a 
vague, fickle surmising, there a firm, prophetic word ; here the 
most diverse views of the goal and the way leading thereto, 
there the goal clearly described from the first and the way more 
and more clearly illuminated, until He came who described Him- 
self as the Way and the Truth. 

Examination of the import of Biblical prophecy, combined 
with its fulfilment, will always prove its higher origin and 
divine character to all who believe in Jesus Christ. E. Kenan 
describes "prophetism" as an essential feature in the spiritual 
life of the Shcmitic race, as the form in which all great move- 
ments work themselves out among the Shemites. Where then, 
we ask, are the Shemitic prophets whose productions can be 
placed beside the Bible, nay, who deserve to be called prophets 
beside the Biblical ones ? Where are the oracles and books, 
coming from any other Shemitic race, that with any literary 
right could be added to the collection of 0. T. prophecies 
which belong to such diverse periods ? The Arabians, who are 
usually, and not unjustly, regarded as the unsophisticated, 
original type of the Shemitic nature what have they to show 
that compares with the prophetic literature of the Old Testa- 
ment ? Compared with it, how little original, how poor and 
insipid, appears the one Koran, that secondary imitation of true 
prophecy ! Moreover, the genuineness of this divine word is 
proclaimed not merely in outward excellences of style and living 
inspiration, but in its profound insight into the human heart 
and into the course of history, in its moral elevation above the 
stream of the age and current natural feeling, in its wonderful 
unity, binding into one products of such different persons, ages, 
and circumstances, finally in its fulfilment in that perfect revela- 
tion in Christ, which is seen to be the ripe fruit of this growing 
organism, because, although itself a gift to humanity from above, 
its way was unmistakably prepared for in those witnesses. Thus 
O. T. prophecy is a unique product among the works of the 
nations, and still less than faith in the one living God can it- 
be derived from merely finite, national, and psychological factors. 


It is more than the purest expression of the Shemitic nature, 
more than the noblest flower of the Hebrew national spirit it 
issued from the fructifying of diverse human characters, which 
certainly had some elements in common, by the one Divine Spirit, 
who, while raised above humanity, has in the course of tinie 
brought His work to maturity in it. 

NOTE A. De Repub. ii. p. 361 s. : " Such being our unjust man, 
let us place the just man by his side, a man of true simplicity 
and nobleness, resolved, as ^Eschylus says, not to seem, but to be 
good. We must certainly take away the seeming ; for if he be 
thought to be a just man, he will have honours and gifts on the 
strength of this reputation, so that it will be uncertain whether 
it is for justice's sake, or for the sake of the gifts and honours, 
that he is what he is. Yes, we must strip him bare of everything 
but justice, and make his case the reverse of the former. With- 
out being guilty of one unjust act, let him have the worst reputa- 
tion for injustice, so that his virtue may be thoroughly tested, 
and shown to be proof against infamy arid all its consequences ; 
and let him go on to the day of his death, stedfast in his 
justice, but with a lifelong reputation for injustice. . . . They 
(who prefer injustice above justice) will say that in such a 
situation the just man will be scourged, racked, fettered, will have 
his eyes burnt out, and at last, after suffering every kind of 
torture, will be crucified ; and thus learn that it is best to resolve, 
not to be, but to seem, just." (Trans, by Davies and Vaughan.) 

NOTE B. See the careful treatise of Ed. Miiller : Parallelen zu 
dem messianischen Weissagungen und Typen des alien Testaments 
aus dem hellenischen Alterthum, 1875, where also other passages 
of the classics, which one would fain regard as products of the 
Adyog ffKtppanKoc, are subjected to a necessary criticism. On 
p. 30 ff. it is shown how different the kingly, priestly, and 
prophetic office, which has been supposed to be found in the 
sage of the Stoa, is from the threefold dignity of the Messiah. 
When, on p. 66, Zeno's State, with its character of universal 
humanity, is contrasted with the particularism of the Messianic 
prophecies, we, on the contrary, are unable in the former to 
recognise a higher standpoint. We shall see that Isaiah, for 
example, includes all nations in the organism of God's kingdom, 
while salvation proceeds from Zion. 

NOTE C. Of. e.g. the notions of the Chinese respecting such 
ideal lands and states, in Ernst Faber, Der Naturalismus bei 
den alien Chinesen, oder die sammtlichen Werke, des Philosophen 
Licius, 1877, p. 17. 

NOTE D. So in the Eig - Veda, where the departed in the 



kingdom of Yama lay aside all imperfection and partake in 
divine enjoyment. Respecting the old Egyptians (Germans, 
Parsis), cf. Edm. Spiess, Entwickelungsgeschichte der Vorstellunyen 
vom Zustande nach dem Tode, 1877. Also, according to the faith 
of manj- wild races, as the Indians, the departed reach the land of 
the blessed. 

NOTE E. Here comes in the fourth Eclogue of Virgil, where 
the poet, referring to an oracle of the sibyl of Cuma (of uncer- 
tain origin), announces the dawn of the last world - age as a 
blissful kingdom of peace, where strife among men and in 
nature will cease, as well as the wearisome tilling of the ground 
and perilous voyaging. Cf. Piper, Evangelischer Kalender, 1862, 
p. 55 if. 

7. Fulfilment in General. 

As prophecy rests on a historic basis, so it is an essential mark 
of its character to aim at a historic realization. Every true 
prophecy needs fulfilment, without which it would be a mere 
sound, not a word of the living God. In distinction from human 
ideals and hopes which may be genuine and noble without being 
realized, prophecy is spurious and a product of human ingenuity 
unless it is fulfilled ; for God's counsel, such as the prophetic 
word claims to be, must be realized. Even the biblical expression 
" fulfilment " or " establishment " (note A) implies that some- 
thing is lacking to the completeness of prophecy until it gains 
reality by the occurrence of what is foretold. If, in prophecy, 
the living God has pledged His word to history, He will redeem 
it by fulfilment He is everywhere regarded as the real Ful- 
filler ; men are mere instruments in working out His decree. 

As relates to the mode of fulfilment, its diversity is grounded 
in the diversity of the prophecies. Where in the prophecy itself 
the chief stress was placed on the form of the outward occurrence, 
where e.g. the prophet expressly made this the criterion of the 
genuineness of his oracle, there, of course, the exact accomplish- 
ment of the events foretold became the "sign" by which his 
contemporaries recognised the messenger of the true God. If 
such a sign was not fulfilled, the prophet was convicted of im- 
posture (Deut. xviii. 22 ; cf. Jer. xxviii. 9 ; Ezek. xxxiii. 13). 
(See ante, p. 7.) That such predictions of single historical 
events are found in the Biblical literature and also in the classical 
prophetic books proper, whose literal fulfilment is either expressly 


testified or must be assumed as an indispensable condition of the 
acknowledgment of the prophets in question, we have emphasized 
on p. 2 7. Here the view of prophecy maintained by H. Schultz * 
is certainly insufficient. Not merely is it impossible to foretell 
names and numbers from mere " ethico-religious conviction," it 
is also an illusion to suppose that the catastrophe of Sennacherib 
or the fate of King Zedekiah could have been suggested to the 
consciousness of an Isaiah or Ezekiel in the concrete definiteness, 
in which they were foretold by these seers and happened in his- 
tory, by " the knowledge of the eternally valid laws of the divine 
nature." Now in all such cases which, with the best will, it is 
impossible to expunge, must we talk of divination a descent 
from the height of pure prophecy ? Such an explanation would be 
as perverse as it is audacious. We must take prophecy as it was 
according to the authentic testimonies of history, not as it ought 
to be according to abstractions of the present day. Nor do we 
see anything " magical " or " unnatural " in such coincidence, but 
a supernatural manifestation of God, who thus revealed Himself as 
the sovereign director of history in the little as well as in the 

But just because God is not a blind nature - power, but 
voluntarily assumes a reciprocal moral relation to men, His 
words are no unalterable fate ; their realization depends on men's 
moral attitude to Him. In urgently summoning men to fore- 
stall the threatened judgment by repentance, and by faithful 
devotion to the holy God to fulfil the condition of participation 
in the promised blessings, the prophets plainly intimate that 
their threatening or promise is itself conditional ; and where 
its fulfilment is wanting or postponed in consequence of men's 
changed attitude to God, its divine character does not suffer 
on this account. God's holy justice remains consistent witli 
itself, for the very reason that it speaks in one way to him who 
defies its law, and in another to the sinner who bows in peni- 
tence to the divine will. 2 In this way God makes known His 
personal ethical freedom ; no unalterable destiny, no physical 
system of nature guides the course of human history. 

In such cases there can be no question of unfulfilled prophecy 
in the proper sense, because the divine utterance had its effect 
and exhibited its power, even though the prophet in human 

1 A. T. Theologie, 2nd ed. p. 230 ff. * Cf. ibid. p. 243 f., 247 f. 


weakness might regret the suspension of the carrying out of the 
divine decree. The latter case meets us in the classical example 
of Jonah. Jonah iv. 2 shows that the prophets often had like 
experiences of the divine mercy. In this case, indeed, the pro- 
phet precisely and definitely proclaimed the will of the Lord 
respecting Nineveh, " overthrown in forty days," such as would 
have been realized if the city had persisted in its ungodly life ; 
but the universal repentance, brought about by the preaching of 
judgment, restrained God's avenging arm. If the prophet under- 
stood his vocation, he rejoiced in such repentance, like Joel. 
Another example, in which the Lord repented of His word, 
this anthropopathism is to be understood as above, is men- 
tioned in Jer. xxvi. 18 f. Of. Micah iii. 12 : the prophecy 
of Micah of the overthrow of Jerusalem was followed by Heze- 
kiah's earnest repentance, and the fruit of this repentance was 
the remission of the judgment. In the same way, Ahab owed 
it to his repentance that the sentence threatened him by 
Elijah was only realized in his son (1 Kings xxi. 29). Where 
great guilt awaits vengeful expiation, the Lord, as the last 
example teaches, may be moved at least to delay retribution 
by the penitence of individuals. The retribution may strike 
other generations, other individuals. But at last everything 
must find its due punishment. The " Day of the Lord," as 
the day of general reckoning, may be kept back by God's 
mercy, but at last it strikes in with its universal judgment. 
Such a prophecy of doom, e.g., respecting a nation like Edom, 
Moab, a city like Tyre, is first fulfilled when the guilt of these 
tribes and cities is revenged in their fate. But this doom may be 
delayed for centuries by God's compassion and their own con- 
duct. And such an oracle as that of the Day of the Lord, which 
is to come upon these nations, is only finally fulfilled when there 
are no longer any of the kindred and confederate enemies of God, 
in whom it has not been realized. 

Moreover, salvation as the subject of prophetic promise is 
bound, according to the definite statements of the Bible, to 
certain ethical conditions in regard to its realization. Where 
the individual or a whole generation proved unfaithful to God, 
God could not bestow the blessings promised to it. Failing the 
ethical disposition, the salvation promised to Israel could not 

1 Cf. the resumption of older oracles by later prophets. 


appear, or could not appear as it would have done at the time 
described by the seer. Thus the prophets see the coming of the 
Lord or of the Davidic king in the form of a subjection of the 
foes of Israel to this people. The reasons why salvation did 
not then come, why when it came Israel did not attain this 
glorious position, nay, even remained in great part at a distance 
from the kingdom of God, at least for a time, are to be sought 
primarily in Israel's conduct, its lack of readiness and receptive- 
ness for the salvation promised it. Of course this positive aim 
of the divine plan could not be frustrated by human guilt. All 
the oracles pointing to the blessed completion of God's kingdom 
must be fulfilled. They were fulfilled when their full import 
attained realization. 

If, then, we combine what was formerly remarked on prophecy 
(p. 31), that it borrows the colours and forms with which it sets 
forth the future from the past and present, with what has just 
been said, that its realization depends in part on man's voluntary 
conduct, which may postpone, where it cannot prevent, the exe- 
cution of God's purpose, we shall expect, not a mechanical, but 
an organic agreement between prophecy and history. The con- 
crete image of the future, sketched by the seer in accordance 
with the inner and outer condition of the age, will be changed 
even outwardly, if an inner change occurs in those concerned, 
without its losing in true reality on this account. It will 
be fulfilled only successively and gradually, perhaps in other 
subjects and objects, which meantime have taken the place of the 
former ones in both an outward and inward respect. 

Finally, we need not remark that it would be intolerable pedantry 
to say that the prophecies of Israel's dispersion among all nations 
of the earth are unfulfilled, because it cannot be proved that 
Israelites have lived among, the Lapps or Patagonians, or to find 
fault with the saying of Luke xix. 41, because the Komans left 
some layers of stones standing in the south-west haram-wall. 
But it is not otherwise with many prophecies which are often 
described as unfulfilled, because no account is taken of the poetical 
style of expression peculiar to the East. The limits between 
form and contents, expression and import, are certainly not easily 
drawn. In many prophetic pictures the fulfilment only reveals 
how far they were apt prefigurings, how far inadequate shadows 
of the future, their outlines not squaring with the reality. But 


this we must maintain, that the realization itself is an essential 
element in prophecy. The rule for the relation of prophecy to 
fulfilment is : A prophecy can only be regarded as fulfilled wlien 
the whole body of truth included in it has attained living realization. 
As to the type, the rule, as we have seen in 5, is, that it is 
known as such only by the appearance of the antitype, in which 
it is fulfilled, except where it has been explained in its prefigura- 
tive significance by prophetic speech. It is fulfilled when the 
idea imperfectly hinted in it has found its adequate exposition in 

NOTE A. The expression " fulfilment" is found, although more 
rarely, already in the Old Testament : tfta piel, 1 Kings ii. 27, 
viii. 24 = 2 Chron. vi. 15 and xxxvi. 21. Occurring in reference to 
vows (Jer. xliv. 25), to counsel and prayer (Ps. xx. 4 f), the word 
affirms that the prophetic word is without its full import until it 
has received that import through realization. In the New Testa- 
ment, as is well known, x7.r t po\Jv is exceedingly common in this sense. 
Instead of it the Old Testament generally uses other designations, 
like Kia, to come about, Hab. ii. 3, Jer. xxviii. 9, or transitively, 
where God is the subject: nbty, to carry out what has been said 
(Num. xxiii. 19 ; Jer. xxviii. 6), Jfl?3, to accomplish (Lain. ii. 17), 
but chiefly the specially expressive D'pn, to establish, bring to pass. 
In opposition to prophecy falling to the ground (?S3, Josh. xxi. 45, 
xxiii. 14 ; 1 Kings viii. 56), genuine prophecy is first called to life 
by fulfilment. This is implied in Dip, of which the kal stands in 
this sense, Jer. Ii. 29, piel, Ezek. xiii. 6, but as a rule the hiph. (which 
is also used elsewhere of the performing of vows, Num. xxx. 14, 
Jer. xliv. 25, and commands, 1 Sam. xv. 11, 13; Deut. xxvii. 26, 
2 Kings xxiii. 24; Neh. v. 13; Jer. xxxiv. 18, xxxv. 16; cf. the 
hoph., ver. 14) : Num. xxiii. 19 ; Deut. ix. 5 ; 1 Sam. i. 23 ; 1 Kings 
ii. 4, vi. 12, viii. 20 (=2 Chron. vi. 10), xii. 15 (=2 Chron. x. 15) ; 
Neh. ix. 8 ; Ps. cxix. 38 ; Isa. xliv. 26 ; Jer. xi. 5, xxviii. 6, xxix. 10, 
xx xiii. 14. In the LXX the word is expressed, not by -JTATJ/XJUV, but 
mostly by /Vs-jj/u and its compounds. It stood also in Ecclus. 
xxxvi. 20 (cf. Fritzsche, Comm. p. 201), where the Greek translation 
gives lyupw. In the New Testament uKoxaditfrdvai corresponds to 
it, Matt. xvii. 11 =Mark ix. 12 ; Acts i. 6 ; cf. aKoxardaraffis, Acts 
iii. 21, out of which a " restitution of all things " has been wrongly 

8. The Fulfilment in the New Covenant. 
The entire prophetic and typical prophecy of the Old Covenant, 


so far as it pointed to a perfect setting up of the divine rule upon 
earth after a previous judgment and redemption, found its essential 
fulfilment in the appearance of the Mediator of the New Covenant. 
Jesus of Nazareth presented Himself as the Messiah announced 
in the Old Covenant, who, according to prophecy, was to make 
this kingdom of God a fact ; and in harmony with His own claim, 
the Christian Church has seen in Him the One in whose person 
all the lines of prophecy meet. In the person of the Son of God 
and Son of man the relation towards humanity which God has 
always been aiming at is purely and perfectly realized. In His 
work the service which God asks of the true Servant of the Lord 
is perfectly rendered, and thus the fundamental condition of the 
divine-human reign on earth fulfilled. In a word, Jesus is the Christ, 
in whom the central idea of the Old Covenant has been realized 
under every aspect. Law and prophecy are fulfilled in Him, and 
can desire no further extension of which He is not the ground 
and medium. On the other hand, of course, it ought not to be 
forgotten that this realization exists in perfect form only in His 
parson, not in the world. The kingdom which He founded has 
not yet been revealed in its complete form. And as long as this 
is not done, according to the above canon, the oracles of the Old 
Covenant, which require that God's kingdom shall fill the whole 
earth with undisputed supremacy, are not satisfied ; for the fulfil- 
ment cannot contain less than the prophecy. Only, these statements 
must not be referred to the future at once, without being brought 
into the light of Christ's revelation. But the several rays of 
prophecy, which without exception meet in the person of Christ 
as their focus, thence divide again in all directions. Christ Him- 
self and the apostles again expressly resumed them. Thus 
prophecy of judgment and salvation opens anew. But such 
judgment is merely the outward effect of the inner attitude that 
has been and will be assumed by nations and individuals to the 
salvation offered in Christ's historic person. Cf. the saying of 
Christ, John iii. 18, xii. 48: "He that believes not in me is 
condemned already." And the salvation still future is merely the 
actual appearance of the blessed kingdom of God introduced in 
Christ and already virtually existing in the believer. 

If the person and earthly \vork of Christ thus form the 
centre of its historical fulfilment, we cannot call it " accidental " 
that in His history prophecy has been realized not merely as to 


its ideas, but also in respect of its form, as in no other history. 
Prophecy, indeed, is not a mechanical copy of the fulfilment, 
in the way in which the artificial " sibylline " oracles narrate 
beforehand the history of Christ. 1 But innumerable undesigned 
coincidences, apparently of a merely formal kind, point to the 
organic connection of prophetic and typical prophecy with the 
lite of the true Messiah, divine hints indicating in the historic 
Jesus the long-promised Christ. We shall meet with many such 
traits, some expressly emphasized by the Lord, the apostles, and 
evangelists, and others made clearly evident in other ways. As 
modern rationalism stumbles at all such shaping of outward life 
according to divine counsel as it is unable to derive from general 
maxims, and it cannot here avail itself of mtieinia post eventum, 
while the supposition of mere accident does not satisfy reason, 
it here after the example of Strauss suspects the fulfilment of 
having copied the prophecies. And yet it is clear how differently 
a life of the Messiah must have turned out, if it had been arbi- 
trarily sketched by the apostles according to their own Messianic 

In the fact that the fulfilment by Christ presents a wondrous 
agreement with the word of prophecy even in outward reality 
we see something more than adminicula for the weak, which is 
the utmost that some even believing theologians would allow such 
coincidences to pass for. We discern therein an intimation that 
" the end of the ways of God is corporeity." Even in outward 
form the Lord will at last reveal His glory. And while it is 
certain that we ought not again to transfer to the future any part 
of 0. T. prophecy which the gospel has shown to be mere transient 
limitation, as is done to some extent by a too realistic theology, 
still, on the other hand, it is perverse to maintain that the only 
permanent elements in those oracles are certain abstract ideas, 
while the form has no enduring significance. As little as 
the agreement of the form with the appearance of the person 
of Christ was accidental, so little will it be unrelated to 
the shape of God's kingdom that is to come. Only this is 
certain, that the fulfilment will always contain something far 
higher than could be pictured with the aid of prophecy. Even 
the truest Israelites, who waited for the consolation of Israel, 
following prophecy, conceived the Messiah quite differently from 

1 Tholuck, Die Propheten, p. 146 f. 


what He actually was when He came. But when they had 
come to know Him, they wondered to see how exactly everything 
was fulfilled in Him. In the same way, no doubt, all who under 
the guidance of prophecy have formed a concrete conception of 
the future kingdom of God have a very inadequate, and in part 
mistaken conception thereof. But this does not make it impos- 
sible that, when the kingdom shall appear, we shall be astonished 
at the wondrous coincidence between God's word and work even 
in outward details. 

In considering more closely the attitude which Jesus Himself 
took to the 0. T. revelation, 1 we see first of all that He placed 
Himself in subordination to it, because it contained His Father's 
will : " Think not that I am come to destroy the law and the 
prophets. I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil" (Matt. v. 17). 
He speaks thus in the very beginning of the discourse, in which 
He opposes to the commands of the old law a " But I say unto 
you," uttered in divine self-consciousness. For by that which 
He contrasts as His own demand and action with the old 
command, He by no means destroys the latter, but clearly brings 
out and perfectly realizes its full divine import. 2 But certainly 
in such a treatment of the Mosaic law is seen at once the claim, 
that He alone is called and empowered to disclose in its full 
truth and clearness the expression of God's holy will once given 
imperfectly by Moses, and at the same time to convert it into 
reality. Jesus puts Himself under the law so far as it is 
divine, above it so far as it is Mosaic. We find a similar con- 
trast in the attitude of Jesus to prophecy. On the one hand, 
He subjects Himself completely to the course there prescribed to 
Him, and considers His life and death in all its details as some- 
thing that must so take place, because it is so written in God's 
word ; on the other hand, He views Himself as the culminating 
point to which the whole of prophecy, nay, the entire Old Testa- 
ment was meant to lead. While He nowhere sets Himself in 
opposition to the letter of prophecy, as found at least formally in 
the law 7 , He first gives the words of prophecy their true import (e.g. 
to ideas like "righteousness "and "God's kingdom "),and,indeed, such 
an import as of itself abolishes the formal limits of the prophetic 

1 Cf. Lechler, Das alte Testament in den RedenJesu, Stud. u. Krit. 1854, Heft 4. 

2 C. J. Riggenbach, Jesus Christus, der Erf idler von Oesetz und Propheten (Vor- 
trag, 1878), p. 4 ff. 


oracles, their local and national boundaries. But the " sovereignty " 
of the Lord Jesus in relation to the prophets shows itself chiefly 
in His making His own person tlw centre of what they foretold of 
God's kingdom, and treating it all as fulfilled in Himself^ More 
than once He solemnly and expressly declared Himself to be 
" the Christ," the Messiah, and thus laid emphasis on the regal 
divine dignity belonging to Him as the true " Anointed of the 
Lord," 2 and raising Him far above David and Solomon, Abraham, 
and the prophets from Moses to John. 3 But at the same time 
He alluded to His humiliation and passion as something belonging 
of necessity to His mission, since it was just as emphatically set 
forth in Scripture. 4 He thus applied entirely to Himself the two 
images of the glorious Son of God and the suffering Servant of God, 
ideas which in the Old Testament were merely tending towards 
unity in certain hints, and thus disclosed a deeper connection in 
Scripture little known to the ancients. But still more. From the 
first He declared His appearing to be a coming of the kingdom 
of God, 6 thus claiming for His own person also the prophecies 
that referred, not to the " Messiah," but to the " coming of 
Yahveh." He designated His forerunner John the voice which, 
in Isa. xl. 3, makes itself heard before Yahveh, or Elijah who 
comes before the day of the Lord to prepare everything. 6 The 
two lines of prophecy, one of which speaks of the coming of 
Yahveh, the other of a future ruler from David's house, thus 
blend in Him. And if everything great and essential that had 
been said of the completion of God's kingdom is combined in 
Christ, and only obtained its true greatness and essence in His 
person, it follows, of course, that the whole Old Covenant bore 
witness and pointed to Him, that the reign of God in Israel, 
viewed from a higher standpoint, aimed at this consummation, 
and that all God's previous revelations were but a prelude of the 
one given in His Son in the fulness of time. Here type reaches its 
adequate completion, just as prophecy its full realization. From 
the N". T. standpoint the two are not essentially different. Here 

1 Cf. Gess, Die Souverdnitat des Herrn Jesu gegeniiber von den Propheten 
(Vortrag), 1879. 

1 Cf. His self-designation " Son of man," according to Dan. vii. 13, and especially 
Mark xiv. 61 f. 

3 Mark xii. 35-37 ; Matt. xii. 42 ; John viii. 58 ; Luke vii. 28. 

4 Matt. xii. 40, xvi. 21 ; Mark viii. 31 ; Luke xxiv. 45 f. 

5 Mark i. 15. 6 Matt. xi. 10. 


it is a subordinate question how far the reference to the com- 
pletion in the future was present to man's consciousness. Even 
if David or any other man of God in the Passion-psalms spoke 
primarily of his own experiences and feelings, the idea of the 
suffering King and Servant of God is first realized in Christ ; the 
words apply to Him, are fulfilled in Him, i.e. receive their full 
meaning first in the experiences of His life. "We choose an 
example, in which the Lord Himself sees His death foretold : 
" Ye all shall be offended in me this night ; for it is written, I 
will smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered " (Matt. 
xxvi. 31). The citation is from Zech. xiii. 7, where it is said: 
"Awake, sword, against my shepherd, and against the man 
that is my fellow, saith the Lord of hosts : smite the shepherd, 
and the sheep shall be scattered : and I will turn my hand against 
the little ones." Even if this oracle applied to a pious shepherd 
of the prophet's days, to himself, or a king of his days, it was 
verified in an incomparably higher degree in Christ. He is the 
" Good Shepherd," who with full right and consciousness claims 
for Himself everything of this idea found in the Old Covenant. 
And as He can call Himself the " fellow " of God with incom- 
parably more reason than all other shepherds, so also what is 
said of the violent end of the best Shepherd, causing such bitter 
woe to the poor flock, will have its most terrible fulfilment in 
Him and His disciples. 

Only by pondering and appreciating in all its bearings the 
attitude which the Lord assumed to the Old Covenant in His 
witness to Himself, can we understand the exposition and appli- 
cation which the N. T. authors, apostles and evangelists, give to 
the prophetic word, and indeed to the Old Testament generally, 
as a prophecy of Christ. It is impossible to deny that the view 
of Scripture current in those days, the training of the authors of 
the Gospels and Epistles, as well as that of their readers, had 
some influence on the exposition, more, indeed, on the remarks 
of the evangelists than on the discourses of the Lord, in one 
form in the case of the author of the Hebrews with his Alex- 
andrian culture, and in another in the case of Paul with his 
Rabbinical training. The Jews of those days were fond of a 
free application of Scripture, not always professing to be a 
proper exposition, 1 and even where it professes to be expository, 

1 Cf. the excellent treatise of Tholuck, Das Alte Testament im Neuen Testament 


not always governed by the grammatico-historical principle. But 
such a reference to the subjective modes of conception in those 
days, which had their influence on the authors of the New Testa- 
ment, or the supposition of an accommodation on their part to 
their readers, would not do justice to the facts of the case. 
The objective ground, justifying the messengers and witnesses of 
Christ in what they did, lies in the above-stated relation of 
Christ to the Old Covenant. Not only did the divine thoughts 
made known in that covenant first find their true expression in 
Christ, and in Him without exception, but the agreement between 
the form of prophecy and the appearance of Jesus Christ made 
an overwhelming impression on contemporaries, so far as they 
were enlightened by the Spirit of God, an impression which they 
strove by their testimony to impart to others. In the first and 
the fourth Gospel the aim throughout the story of the life of 
Jesus is to show that He is "the Christ," the promised Messiah. 
To those who saw with their own eyes, and handled with their 
own hands, the Word of life, no detail seemed accidental or in- 
significant. In the least, as in the greatest, they discovered a 
wondrous harmony with what God had said of old, and mention 
it when referring to the Old Covenant. They do so as those 
who stand entirely in the light of the new, and for whom the 
entire significance of the old lies in its bearing testimony to the 
new. In the full confidence that their Master is the Yea and 
Amen to everything God ever said and promised, they seize 
without anxious inquiry upon the wealth of the prophetic word, 
and place the entire garland on His head, careless whether single 
flowers and leaves are thus removed from the place that bore 
them, they all grew for Him alone ! 

Finally, from what has been said the question will answer 
itself, whether and how far the N. T. fulfilment must govern us in 
discussing 0. T. prophecy. In opposition to the course followed 
in the Church formerly, which will be treated of in the next 
section, preference is rightly given in our days to the grammatico- 
historical method, according to which every prophecy is to be first 
considered in the meaning which it must have had for its con- 
temporaries, and which, therefore, the speaker himself intended. 
The N. T. authors by no means wish to exempt us from this 

(1861), and the literature there given on Rabbinical hermeneutics and the relation 
of N. T. authors thereto. 


scientific labour ; their business lies elsewhere than in the historic 
indication of the original context and character of a passage. 
Hence we do not detract from their reputation by first inquiring 
into the human conditions of a saying, as to which they consider 
the absolutely divine import alone. It is easily possible for such 
a saying to go through a long course of development, only attain- 
ing a greater range of meaning at a higher stage of revelation. 

But, on the other hand, it must not be overlooked that the 
single prophetic oracle is not a chance product of momentary 
circumstances and moods, but professes to come from the Divine 
Spirit ; and that this origin is confirmed by the inner unity of 
prophecies originating in the most diverse circumstances and 
individuals, and separated by centuries ; finally, that the reve- 
lation of Christ claims to be the one centre, in which all the 
arteries of this organism meet. Thus a mode of treating single 
oracles is demanded, which does not consider them as isolated 
atoms, but regards them in their inner connection. And since 
every organism can only be truly understood in all its members 
from the completion of its development, the connection and full 
significance of the prophecy of the Old Covenant can only be 
duly appreciated in all its members from its fulfilment in the 
New Covenant. We cannot content ourselves with the dualistic 
dismemberment we meet with in Eiehm : " The contents of the 
prophecies i.e. the sense in which the prophets themselves 
understood them, and would have them understood by their con- 
temporaries must be distinguished from the reference, intended 
by God and historically revealed, to the fulfilment ly Christ!' l 
In many passages, indeed, the two things need to be distinguished. 
But, in general, the reference to the completion of the divine 
kingdom by Christ is part of the contents of prophecy, nay, forms 
its essential, although often veiled contents. It is to be noted 
that the prophetic word usually has an enigmatic remnant, a 
mysterious something, before which the consciousness of the 
prophet and of the hearers stands in hushed reverence. Therefore 
we must not merely reckon what was perfectly clear to the under- 
standing of prophet and hearers as forming part of the contents 
of prophecy. Prophecy, as a rule, contains a mysterious germ, 
whose unfolding was only surmised, but which was nevertheless 

1 Messianic Prophecy, p. 151 (Eng. trans.) [Riehm criticizes the phrase "dual- 
istic dismemberment," Stud. u. Krit. 1883, 4 Heft, p. 804.] 


part of its contents. A satisfactory, though still historic, treat- 
ment will take account of this germ, and at least indicate its 
future unfolding. Thus will the organic unity with the N. T. 
fulfilment be spontaneously established. But the witnesses of 
the New Covenant show us only the ultimate goal for which 
we are to look. We must take our stand altogether in the age 
of the origin of these oracles, and simply make clear the way 
thence to the goal. In other words, the history of the fulfilment 
has indeed an essential influence on our consideration of prophecy, 
but a merely regulative one. 

9. The Treatment of the Subject in Christian Theology. 

In Christian theology, one of whose postulates is the fulfilment 
of 0. T. prophecy, the mode of treating this subject has been 
very different, according to the idea of revelation governing the 
writers, and their scientific skill in philological and historical 
research. Here we desire to point out merely the main lines 
that come to light as theology developes, remitting the 
reader to the more specific investigations of Tholuck * and 
Diestel. 2 

We have seen that Christ and the apostles, on the best inner 
grounds, transferred the divine ideas of the Old Testament and 
its divinely-ordered types into the New Covenant, in order in its 
light to show their complete realization. On the other hand, 
the ancient Church, from the first centuries down to the Middle 
Ages, almost ignoring the distinction of Old and New Covenant, 
imported the N. T. revelation directly into the Old Testament, 
and thought only of establishing the complete harmony of the 
two. The things wanting to an historic appreciation of the 
genetic process were first of all, philological knowledge, the 
foremost Church Fathers, with the exception of Jerome, being 
unacquainted with the Hebrew tongue ; secondly, the critical 
eye, able to distinguish what belongs to different periods ; and, 
in general, the delicate historical sense, skilled to discern in that 
development the organic control of the Divine Spirit. The Fathers 
therefore sought references to Christ's life and teaching at 
random in the Old Testament, dwelling much on mere details. 

1 Das Alte Testament im 2?eucn Testament. 

3 Geschichte dta Alien Testaments in der christlichen Kirche, 1869. 


Even the arts of literal Cabbalistic symbolism were not despised, 1 
the text being often wrested from its original meaning. Where 
it seemed quite impossible to obtain a Christian meaning, the 
allegorical mode of explanation was applied. In 1 Cor. x. 4, 
GaL iv. 21 ff., Paul had apparently given authority for this. 
But, apart from the consideration that greater freedom belonged 
to the inspired witnesses of the N. T. revelation in applying the 
written word than to the later Church, and that the former 
passage does not impose a foreign meaning on the words, but 
alludes to a mystery hidden under the outward occurrence, 
apart from this, the moderate, judicious way in which the apostle 
makes use of such interpretation was not taken for a pattern. 
The manifold sense of the letter was elevated into a principle, 
all secure ground for Bible interpretation being thus cut away. 
Still the ancient Church was not without more unsophisticated 
perception of the real facts of the case. "Whilst the allegorical 
method, borrowed from the Hellenistic Jews, flourished in the 
Alexandrine school (Origen), far more important results were 
achieved for historic interpretation by the Antiocliian, viz. by 
Diodorus of Tarsus and his greater scholar Theodore of Mopsuestia, 
who referred only three of the psalms, which were nearly all 
regarded as Messianic, to Christ, applying most of them to David, 
Solomon, Zerubbabel, Hezekiah, etc. He fought zealously against 
the Allegorists. On the other hand, he lays special stress on the 
type ; he really includes even verbal prophecies under this idea ; 
to him they are not germs of something future, but imperfect 
preformations, whose import is always transcended by the fulfil- 
ment. Here we have the beginning of a rational explanation of 
prophecy, which, of course, might degenerate into Eationalism. 
But this mode of view, like the freer method of handling Scrip- 
ture in general, forthwith fell into discredit, and this corrective 
to the unhistoric spirit of the Church was soon lost Moreover, 
Theodore knew no Hebrew or Syriac, and in his interpretation was 
not always faithful to his own principles. A middle position be- 
tween the Alexandrians and Antiochians is occupied by Chrysostom, 
who filed off the edges of Theodore's hermeneutics, and knew how 
to turn Bible language to account in the most pleasing manner. 

1 Cf. the so-called Epistle of Barnabas, chap, ix., where the name of Jesus is read 
out of the 318 servants of Abraham. I = 10, H = 8, are the initial letters of 'intraus ; 
T = 300, has the form of the cross, etc. 


He also busies himself much with types; only the Messianic 
prophecies proper are to him not merely typical, but directly 

In the earliest ages the interest felt in 0. T. prophecy was 
very great. It formed a main argument of the Apologists against 
the Jews. Justin Martyr especially, in his treatises against the 
Jews, makes use of it, laying the greatest emphasis on the 
harmony between prophecy and its fulfilment (in Christ). He 
calls this harmony the peyt<TTr) icai aXtjOevTaTr) a-TroSetft? of 
Christianity. He describes prophecy as the kernel and chief 
import of the Israelitish religion. It states what will be done to 
Christ, througli Christ and with Christians. But his interest in 
it is far less historic than apologetic. Thus the national element 
in prophecy is more and more ignored, and everything receives 
a Christian colouring. The allegorizing of an Origen achieved 
great things in this line. All oracles, for example, treating of 
Jerusalem, according to this Church Father are to be referred 
to the heavenly Jerusalem. The facts announced therein 
have no historical meaning, but denote supersensuous events 
The oracles respecting foreign peoples apply to the souls of these 
peoples in heaven. Israel also is always to be spiritually under- 
stood. Augustine states his hermeneutic principles in reference 
to the prophets in de civitate Dei, 1. xvii. chap. 3 : One class of 
prophecies applies to the earthly Jerusalem, another to the 
heavenly Church, to which all believers belong; a third species 
refers to both. In the same work Augustine is the first to give 
a systematic exposition of the development of prophecy, as well 
as a review of the prophets existing in literary form, L xviii. 
chap. 27-35. 

After the age of persecution was past, the attitude of the 
Church to prophecy changed in a marked way, its fulfilment 
being no longer looked for so eagerly. In opposition to the 
chiliastic expectations of the sects, the prophecy of the Old 
Covenant was regarded as finally fulfilled and done with. The 
canon of Jerome (on Isa. xl. 14) at once became current: 
Prudens et christianus lector hanc habeat repromissionum 
prophetalium regulam, ut quse Judsei et nostri, immo non 
nostri, Judaizantes carnaliter futura contendunt, nos spiritualiter 
jam transacta doceamus, nee per occasionem istiusmodi fabu- 
larum et inextricabilium juxta apostolum qutestionum juda'izare 



cogamur. Ever} 7 thing was held to be fulfilled, and where the 
language of prophecy accorded too little with the actual appear- 
ance of Jesus and His Church (as e.g. in the delineations of the 
Messianic kingdom), it was thought the expressions should be 
interpreted spiritually. Indeed, such a spiritual interpretation 
was attributed to the prophets, as if they had understood their 
oracles in no other way. The literal (reale) interpretation, that 
sees a preliminary but not yet fully revealed fulfilment in Christ's 
first appearing, and expects the perfect one at His second coming, 
was discredited by the extravagances of the chiliasts, and looked 
on as heretical. Just so this spiritualistic interpretation did 
not scruple to refer the promises, applying to the future of the 
people of Israel, to the Church as the spiritual posterity of 
Abraham according to Gal. iii. 7. But the prospect opened out 
by the same apostle (Kom. xi. 12), that by the conversion of 
the whole of Israel the prophecies will one day be fulfilled 
entirely, was ignored by the Gentile- Christian Church. 

Thus we must say in general of the ancient Church, that it 
imported the New Testament directly into the Old, using in a 
one-sided manner the maxim of Augustine, correct in itself: 
Novum Testamentum in Vetere latet, Vetus in Novo patet, to bind 
the two Testaments closely together, and leaving out of sight the 
essential diversity expressed in the latere. That the prophecies 
and discourses of the prophets generally were full of references 
to their own age, was altogether overlooked (except by the 
Antiochian school). Characteristic is Chrysostom's view, that 
the prophets often spoke in appearance only of the past, and 
mixed historical matters in their discourses in order to veil their 
true meaning ; for if they had put everything into plain language, 
they would have been slain by their contemporaries and their 
books burnt, as the example of Jeremiah proves. The conditions 
of the age which limited even the prophet's gaze are thus ignored. 
According to 2 Pet. i. 19, prophecy is like a lamp shining in a 
dark place. Instead of paying regard to this, the clear light of 
day was presupposed in the Old Testament. 

No scientific treatment of the subject was possible until the 
Bible could be again read and examined in the original text. 
Throughout the Middle Ages the only uses of the Old Testament 
were the practical and the scholastic. Finally, Humanism and 
the Eeformation took in hand philological study, and thus opened 



the way for an historical treatment. The important conclusion 
was arrived at, that the meaning of a passage can at bottom only 
be one. But the new path was entered on only gradually and 
not without many exceptions. It was in reference to the 
prophecies that historic interpretation was at its weakest, because 
here too great haste was made to reach the N. T. revelation. 
The Reformers took too little account of the difference between the 
two Testaments, borrowing from the early Church the common 
spiritualizing method in interpreting the Messianic prophecies. 
Yet here and there we see a freer view, acknowledging that the 
sense of an 0. T. passage is not exactly the same which it 
receives in the New Testament. It was gradually seen that the 
idea in prophecy arises out of an historic ground. So Zwingle 
comments on the peculiar passage (Matt. ii. 18), which also 
gives us an example of the exceedingly free manner in which 
Matthew especially finds references in the Gospel history to 
prophecy. Th6 passage in Jer. xxxi. 15, where Rachel, the 
mother of the deported tribe Ephraim, mourns over the loss of 
her children, is cited in reference to the slaughter of the Beth- 
lehemite children, and indeed is introduced by the formula : rore 
eTrXrjpwdT) TO ptjOev 8ia 'lepepiov TOV Trpo^Tov. Thus in this 
incident of the history of Jesus Matthew sees a fulfilment in some 
way of the prophetic oracle. On this Zwingle aptly remarks : 
Evangelista detorquet haec verba ad Christum; omnia enim 
quae in Vetere Testamento etiam sunt gesta, in figura tamen 
contigerunt et figurae fuerunt, in Christo omnia consummantur et 
vere implentur. The detorquet should be noticed, plainly 
intimating that there is a certain violence in the association. 
Nor is the reason assigned incorrect. 1 Matthew, indeed, did not 
assume a direct prophecy wherever he speaks of a Tr^ijpova-Oai. 
And as certainly as the mourning of Rachel was typical of the 
mourning of these mothers robbed of their children, so certainly 
everything in the Old Covenant was typical, and everything in 
the New had its type there. 

Luther, who saw, like no one else since Paul the apostle, the 

1 It is better than Calvin's : Non intelligit Matthseus illic prsedictum fuisse, 
quid factums esset Herodes, sed Christi adventu renovatum esse ilium luctum. 
Less happily Bengel on Matt. ii. 15, 18 : Uniua dicti sensui minor et major rion 
unius temporis erentus respondere potest, donee vaticinium exhauritur, a rule 
correct in itself, but more suitable elsewhere than here. 


depth of the antithesis between law and gospel, had not, on the 
other hand, the historic sense to separate enough the Old 
Testament from the New. He is too eager to find Christ in the 
Old. The Psalms, e.g., are to him " a little Biblia, because they 
speak ' s so clearly of Christ's kingdom, death, resurrection, and 
ascension." In this respect Calvin, altogether the greatest exegete 
of his age, has indicated the right way. His first effort is to 
discover the sense which the author himself gave to his words, 
and he by no means lifts this sense at once out of its historical 
sphere by adducing its N. T. parallel, which is often rather 
an application or borrowing than an exposition. We take 
an example at random. Calvin refers Ps. xxii. to David, who 
is there speaking of his own sufferings, and then rightly observes : 
Minime vero dubium est, quin illo clamore palam ostenderit 
Christus, quamvis hie suas miserias deploret David, psalmum 
hunc tamen prophetico spiritu de se fuisse compositum, there- 
fore a divinely-ordered type, unknown to David, of words as 
well as of events. 1 

In Zwingle, Calvin, (Ecolampadius, and the Reformers generally, 
we meet with the first attempts to do justice to the historic 
sense. The imperfection of their attempts cannot surprise us. 
In the following age of orthodoxy, alongside certain efforts to 
understand the history of redemption more thoroughly, we see 
many steps backward in consequence of dogmatic prepossession. 
The Eeformed Church (and in it the Netherland portion chiefly) 
earned special merit by its research into the 0. T. language 
and theology. Alongside Grotius, who with his fine humanistic 
culture did not enter thoroughly into theological questions, stood 
the school of Cocceius, who tried to put the two Testaments into 
a right relation to each other. The latter divine founded a purely 
Biblical theology, which took for its aim the tracing the course 
of the redemptive history. Theologia prophetica appears henceforth 
as a special discipline. But the types were treated in preference 
to the Messianic prophecies proper. The rules laid down for 
typology were certainly insufficient to form an effectual barrier 

1 We have every reason to admire the historical acuteness and severe truthfulness 
of Calvin shown in this view, which diverges from the traditional one ; and the 
Reformed Church especially cannot be thankful enough to him for it. Instead of 
this, Bohl reproaches him with historical prepossession (Christologie des Alien 
Testaments, p. 33 f.). 


against subjective caprice in its treatment. Hence, although the 
teaching of the Cocceians contains much that is true and 
beautiful, the overgrowth of the typical element obstructs their 
vision. The highest place belongs to Campegius Vitringa, who 
attempts a middle course between Grotius and Cocceius. His 
commentary on Isaiah is one of the foremost achievements of 
Christian exegesis. He is careful first to leave the prophecies 
in their historical significance, and not to refer them directly 
to the time of Christ and the Christian Church. That, despite 
this correct insight into the nature of prophecy, he is often 
seen to be inconsistent in the application of these principles 
and infected with the failings of the theological theories of his 
age, cannot lessen his merit. 

It was inevitable that the structure of dogmatics should first 
be shattered by the negative one-sidedness of rationalism before 
men could see how much of this structure was really built on 
the rock of truth. Even in the age of orthodoxy there were 
harbingers of this school of opinion. Standing outside the Church 
indeed, but exercising no slight influence on the science of the 
next age, B. Spinoza had treated the Bible from the naturalistic 
standpoint. In particular, he brought an acute criticism to bear on 
prophecy, 1 although without any intelligence for ethico-religious 
life. According to him, the superiority of Israel consisted, not 
in any special gracious relation of God to it or in any religious 
vocation, but simply in the fact that for a long time it abode 
happily in its country in a well-ordered commonwealth. Its 
relation to God was not different from that in which the 
Canaanites stood to Him so long as they possessed the land. 
The aim of the whole Mosaic revelation is secure ct commode 
vivere! But within the Protestant Church a rationalistic 
tendency existed from the first, although not such naked 
naturalism. It originated in humanism. The attitude of 
Grotius (t 1645), with his humanistic culture, and the Arminians 
towards prophecy and type was mainly negative ; with overdone 
sobriety they dwelt exclusively on grammar and history. The 
Arminians early suggested that the Jewish authors also cited 
passages of the Old Testament very arbitrarily, without any 
justification from the sense and context of the passages. This 
tendency was the ruling one in the 18th century. The transi- 
1 Tractatus theologico-politicus (appeared 1670), cap. I. -III. 


tion to the age of Illuminism is represented by a work of the 
Genevan theologian, A. Turretin (De S. S. Interpretatione, 1728), 
which expresses itself very freely respecting the N. T. citations ; 
they are said to be meri lusus ingenii, and to rest on an 
accommodation to Jewish conceptions. The next age went 
farther. Rationalism strove generally to establish inconsistency 
between 0. T. prophecy and the historic appearance of Christ, 
as well as the truth revealed in Him, by external historical 
interpretation, overlooking the internal development which joins 
the two Testaments together. If the mistake formerly was fond- 
ness for emphasizing the coincidence of prophecy and fulfilment 
in formal particulars, the aim of Rationalism now was to show 
these particular references to be futile and unwarranted, think- 
ing that in this way it did away with supernatural prophecy 
itself, which was as offensive to it as miracle. The great 
religious ideas, of which those particulars are merely symptoms, 
were left unnoticed in the Old Testament. Still the early 
Rationalism was devout As it sought to evade miracles, 
while leaving the dignity of Scripture intact, so it did with 
predictions. It made use of the accommodation-hypothesis 
already mentioned. J. S. Semler used it very extensively. For 
example, the parallel drawn by the author of the Epistle to the 
Hebrews between Christ and the 0. T. high priest is to him 
merely an accommodation to Jewish readers. Not that the 
same idea of priestly representation lies in the two places, but 
the author desired all the more surely to emancipate his readers 
from this common idea by setting forth Christ as the true High 
Priest. So little intelligence was there for deeper religious 
ideas ! One cannot wonder that less devout rationalists went a 
step farther (note A), and found in the apostles themselves (and 
in Christ), not merely in their readers, the ground of the illusion 
that led to the recognition of prophecy and fulfilment. The 
apostles were placed on exactly the same footing as other 
Jewish writers who so often quote the letter of the Bible without 
inner reason. A gulf was now made apparent between the 
grammatico-historical significance of those 0. T. passages and the 
sense given them in the N. T., and no reasonable mode of explana- 
tion was seen. Men could no longer bring themselves with 
Hamann to sacrifice " the pet child " of the grammatico-historical 
sense in order to obtain the life-blood. 


On the present century lies the task of rising above the 
rationalistic theory, and yet learning something essential from it 
in reference to the grammatico-historical character of prophecy. 
Schleiermacher, who is in general rightly regarded as the con- 
queror of Bationalism, remained entangled in many of the pre- 
judices of that school in respect to his treatment of the Old 
Testament. We spoke before (p. 27) of his limiting the theo- 
logical import of prophecy to universal ethico-religious convictions. 
The influence of this arbitrary abstraction is strongly felt in 
modern theology. The same is true of the theory of the world 
received from Eationalism, in deference to which supernatural 
coincidence is eliminated from prophecy by literary criticism, or, 
where the prophecy cannot be put chronologically after its fulfil- 
ment, is rendered suspicious by doubts cast on the fulfilment. Still 
even the bald rationalistic works of modem days have made cer- 
tain valuable contributions to philological interpretation. Less 
in the wake of Schleiermacher than of J. A. Bengel (t 1752) 
and Chr. A. Crusius l (f 1775), the view has gained favour, that 
prophecy is to be treated as systematic and anticipating fulfil- 
ment, and thus the true reconciliation is to be found between the 
mere grammatico-historical and the pneumatic exposition. But 
certainly this problem is solved in very different ways. 2 Even 
among decidedly orthodox theologians the method of treatment is 
extremely different according to the view taken of the relation 
between spirit and form in prophecy. The spiritualistic tendency 
aims rather at indicating everywhere the eternally valid truths 
and laws of God's kingdom. This was done first of all, in 
opposition to the reigning rationalism, from the standpoint of 
faith in revelation, by Hengstenberg's Cliristology of tJie Old Testa- 
ment (note B). In characteristic contrast to it stands Hofmann's 
Weissagung und Erfilllung (1841-44), where the organic inter- 
connection of God's word and work, the uniform advance of 
redemptive history and prophecy, is emphasized so strongly, that 
really the latter merely expresses what the former always implies. 

1 Cf. F. Delitzsch, Die biblisch-prophetlsche Theologie, Hire Fortbildung durch 
Chr. A. Crusius und Hire neueste Entwickelung sett der Christologie. Hengstenberg's, 

* Cf. e.g. J. T. Beck, Bemerlcvngen uber mesxianische Weissagitngen ah geschicht- 
liches Problem und uber pneumatische Schriftaudegung, in the Tubinger Zeitschrift 
fur Theologie, 1831, Heft 3 (reprinted since), with H. Schultz, Ueber doppelten 
Schriftninn, Theol. Stud. it. Krit. 1866, Heft 1. 


Yet the two are by no means to be explained by finite, external 
factors, but in the greatest as in the least serve to delineate 
the plan of the divine kingdom. With all its one-sidedness, this 
grand conception was an admonition not to depreciate the his- 
toric growth of God's kingdom in the interest of dogma. This 
holds good in respect to the past as well as the future. The 
spiritualizing method, which would only retain ideas, easily 
infringes on the vital import of prophecy, whilst certainly the 
realistic method is in danger of repristiuating in a Judaistic 
spirit what has long been consigned to oblivion. 1 The difference 
here is one of degree. The same holds good for the most part of 
the adherents of the school that criticizes the traditional canon. 
This criticism influences in a large, but still very unequal degree, 
the expositions of J. J. Stahelin (note C), G. Baur (note D), 
E. Anger (note E), H. Ewald (note F), E. Biehm (note G), 
H. Schultz (note H), F. Hitzig (note I), and Kuenen (note J). 
Others, again, more or less conservative in the exposition itself, 
accept the traditional canon as it is, and take up a negative 
attitude towards all literary criticism of it. So Hofmann (note 
K), Hengstenberg, Bohl (note L). On the other hand, Francis 
Delitzsch (note M) and G. F. Oehler (note N), while thoroughly 
maintaining the supernatural character of revelation, and rejecting 
tbe naturalistic criteria of the moderns, by no means assume the 
infallibility of the Jewish tradition of Scripture, and acknowledge 
the right to exercise criticism on the present form of the Bible in 
its own spirit. With these two theologians we are at one in 
this respect, despite differences in the application of principles in 
particular cases. 

NOTE A. To the gross rationalists, who denied all relation 
between prophecy and fulfilment, belonged, e.g., Eeimarus, the 
Wolfenbiittel Fragmentist. See his utterance in Tholuck (Das 
A. T. im N. T. p. 1) : " So much every one sees, that, unless we 
assume the proposition, ' This oracle speaks of Jesus of Nazareth,' 
on trust from the New Testament, no single oracle proves any- 
thing ; but, on the contrary, they naturally speak of quite other 
persons, times, and incidents." 

1 In a different form from Hengstenberg, theologians of free critical leanings 
emphasize the obsoleteness of the 0. T. form of prophecy, after the ideas it contains 
have been fulfilled in Christ. Here, of course, all depends on how much is included in 
that form. Cf. E. Bertheau, Die A.T. Weissagung von Israels Reichsherrlichkeit 
in seinem Lande, Jahrb. fur deutsche Theologie, Bd. iv. and v., and Elehm, below. 


NOTE B. E. \V. Hengstenberg, Christology of the Old Testament, 
4 vols. (T. & T. Clark), an epoch-making work, that courageously 
and successfully vindicated the divine character of prophecy, and 
did much towards reviving reverence for the Old Testament and 
the confidence in it which had declined in the Church, a merit 
which the many defects of the work, only partially amended in the 
2nd edition, ought not to obscure. See the excellent criticism on 
Hengstenberg and Hofmann in Delitzsch, infra. 

NOTE C. J. J. Stahelin, Die mtssianischen Weissagungen des 
Alien Testaments in ihrer Entstehung, Entwickdung und Ausbildung, 
1847, endeavours with all critical freedom to establish an organic 
connection between the two Testaments. 

NOTE D. G. Baur, Geschichte der A. T. Weissagung, 1861, 
1 Theil alas, not continued. The investigation of the " Vor- 
geschichte," here treated of, corresponding to the subject of our 
First Part, leads the author, indeed, for the most part to negative 
results. But it seems as if the further development would have 
been more satisfactory. The exposition is distinguished above the 
majority of works of the kind by clearness and pleasantness, 
notwithstanding the abundance of material. 

NOTE E. E. Anger, Vorlesungen uber die Geschichte der messian- 
ischen Idee, published after the author's death by Max Krenkel. 
Doubtless if the work had been edited by the author himself, this 
meagre summary would have been expanded in an instructive 

NOTE F. See his commentaries on the Prophets of the Old 
Covenant, 2nd ed., 1867-68. (Translated into English in 5 

NOTE G. Ed. Riehm, Messianic Prophet*/, its Origin, Historical 
Character, and Relation to New Testament Fulfilment, 1876 (T. & T. 
Clark), a treatise suggesting a third element alongside those to be 
gathered from Hengstenberg and Hofmann, namely, the unpre- 
judiced critico-historical view, in which certainly the author seems 
to us to go too much into minutiae. On the other hand, we miss in 
him the appreciation of the intuitive character of prophecy. His 
exposition gives far too much the impression of prophecy having 
arisen through dialectic reflection out of the fundamental ideas of 
the 0. T. religion. But the fundamental ideas themselves, with 
their living energy, are a fruit of prophetic revelation. The treat- 
ment of the theocratic kingdom (p. 59 ff.) is perhaps the best part 
of the work. See p. 61, respecting our divergent view of the 
relation of prophecy to the N. T. fulfilment. 

NOTE H. Cf. his Alttestammtliche Theologie, 2nd ed., 1878. 

NOTE I. F. Hitzig, Vorlesungen uber biNische Theologie und 
messianische Weissagungen des Alien Testaments, edited by J. J. 
Kneucker, 1880 (cf. his commentaries on Isaiah, Jeremiah, the 


Minor Prophets, Psalms), while instructive by its acute philology 
and criticism, in theological respects gives nothing but arid 

NOTE J. Kuenen's work, The Prophets and Prophecy in Israel, 
1877, presents the logical working out of the modern critical 
principles which exclude the supernatural. In Bernh. Duhm, 
Die Theologie der Propheten (1875), there is in addition an 
active imagination, that substitutes a political pragmatism for all 
prophetic ideas. 

NOTE K. Cf. besides Weissagung und Erfullung (1841-44), his 
Schriffbeweis (2nd ed. 1857-60). Everywhere original exegesis 
and striking combination, the latter, however, being subjective 
in many respects, the former often violent. 

NOTE L. Ed. Bohl, Christologie des Alien Testaments, oder 
Auslegung der wichtigsten messianischen Weissagungen, 1882. This 
latest discussion of the subject returns to abandoned traditional 
methods, not merely in its dogmatizing manner and conservative 
aversion for literary criticism, biit also in detailed exegesis. 

NOTE M. See his commentaries, especially on Genesis, Psalms, 
Isaiah ; also the above-quoted work, Biblisch-prophetische Theologie ; 
finally, see his lectures, Messianic Prophecies, 1880 (T. & T. Clark), 
a free outline of the material, suitable for academic lectures ; and 
of a like kind, Old Testament History of Redemption, 1881 (T. & T. 

NOTE N See his Old Testament Theology, 2 vols. 1874 (T. & T. 
Clark), as well as his articles, "Messias," " Prophetenthum," in 
Herzog's Real-Encyklopadie. 








10. General View. 

IN the Pentateuch (or Genesis), lying before us as a whole, 
there meets us the remarkable phenomenon, that the word 
of prophecy accompanies the growth of the holy nation out of 
the common beginnings of human development, from one stage 
to another, and specializes itself as it advances, inaugurating, 
and always characterizing briefly and aptly, every new phase of 
the process. Even if we see in this nothing but a view of the 
origin of Israel's history that grew out of knowledge acquired 
later, to this organic mode of considering history, with its fore- 
sight of the goal, we must ascribe the palm among all the 
historical conceptions of antiquity. And as certainly as the 
goal which those oracles have in view is one raised above 
common, national aims, so certainly shall we concede higher 
prophetic dignity to the spirit by which later observers are 
supposed to have shed light on the beginnings of their nation. 
Nor can it be denied that if the goal, which these words assign 
to the history, was in truth divinely ordained, it must have 
been prior to the outward events. Behind the actual facts the 
enlightened mind of man discerns a preceding divine word, as e.g. 
the account of Creation shows, where each special work reveals 
to man's gaze, enlightened by the Creator, a creative divine word. 
Just so certain occurrences in nature and history bring to light 
divine thoughts conceived before, Gen. vi. 3, 5 ff., viii. 21 f. 
Still the narrative certainly claims something more for these 
prophetic words, namely, that they were audibly spoken to men 
before, so that at the initial points of these phases their significance 
was recognised as God's will by the rational representatives of 
the divine thought. 



Generally speaking, there are two forms in which during this 
first period the divine will is declared. In the first place, God 
(or His angel) speaks directly to man, imparting to him blessing 
or curse, promise or penalty. In the Israelitish tradition, as 
among other nations, this immediacy of intercourse is one of 
the characteristic peculiarities of the primitive age. " Walking 
with God" in extraordinary intimacy is ascribed to Enoch and 
Noah. 1 Words of God to Adam, Eve, Cain, Noah, Abraham, 
Isaac, Jacob, words of an angel to Hagar, etc., are given. 

But along with this, during the same period, the form of 
prophetic blessing (or curse) through the mouth of an ancestor 
is common. Whereas words of God specially appear where some- 
thing quite new is to be created, the patriarchal blessing is the 
medium by which an inheritance already bestowed is transmitted. 
It is so first in the case of Noah ; and then, within the line of 
promise, in the case of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob. When one of 
these men of God distributes the blessing among his sons, he 
thereby makes his mental and spiritual testament. In doing so, 
he disposes of blessings not in his possession externally, but of 
those which he has a claim to through his relation to God. But 
the most precious thing he has to bequeath is the special 
attitude in which he stands to God, and which again may pass over 
to one of his sons in special degree, along with the specific, 
gradually-unfolding promises linked with that relation. The 
most natural course was for the eldest, the first-born, to have the 
place of privilege in this respect also. But, on one hand, God 
sometimes arranged the matter otherwise, assigning this supreme 
blessing to another, as in the blessing of Isaac ; and, on the other 
hand, the father (like Jacob, Gen. xlix.) might deviate from the 
order of nature, if the first-born had shown himself unworthy 
of the sacred privilege. But a decisive effect was always ascribed 
to such solemnly-uttered blessings of a progenitor, because no 
doubt was felt concerning his inspiration by the Spirit of God. 

The course of development then is as follows. First of all, 
at the Creation, the thought of God respecting humanity is 
declared in unsullied ideality, Gen. i 26 : As God's image, man 
is to rule the earth in divine dignity. Next, in Gen. iii. 1 5 ff., 
divine words define the empirical state of the human race, as it 
has been since the sin of our first parents, to whom a certain lot 

1 Gen. v. 22, 24, vi. 9. 


is announced, with special characteristics in the case of each sex ; 
while a certain superiority over evil is held out to the hope of 
their posterity. Whereas these first oracles treat humanity col- 
lectively, a later one (Gen. ix. 25-27) characterizes it by the 
diverse developments of its several lines. Here among the sons 
of Noah, who after the Flood takes the position of universal 
progenitor, the divergent directions are characterized which the 
human race will take in its differentiation, while a divine 
privilege is assigned to the one main branch of humanity. In 
this race of Shem, Abraham is set apart in a unique position, 
since he is to stand in a peculiar relation to God, while he 
receives specific promises for himself and his posterity. The 
stream of these blessings is carried over to his son Isaac, and from 
him to Jacob. Finally, the prophetic blessing of Jacob inaugu- 
rates the existence of the organized nation in its twelve tribes, 
with their special spheres, privileges, and faults, while the place 
of leader is assigned to one tribe (Judah). Thus gradually 
things proceed by more and more specific designation towards 
perfection. The goal of this development is the holy nation in 
possession of the holy land, crowned by its God with various 

But is not this harmonious progress of prophecy disturbed in 
its homogeneous connection by the criticism that resolves the 
" books of Moses " into various authorities, and thus refers the 
oracles under consideration to various hands ? No doubt, if the 
current supposition that such oracles of blessing owe their origin 
to the author or redactor of the historical work in which they 
are found were proved, their historic value would be utterly 
gone. We should then have to see in them merely subjective 
reflections of these comparatively recent authors, although even 
then their inner harmony would necessarily point to an objective 
ground. But those oracles, as will be shown in detail, announce 
themselves as a legacy of the foretime, transmitted by tradition 
and given into the hand of the late narrator. It is only the 
setting of this legacy that has felt the narrator's influence in the 
way of arrangement, and at most of some formal redaction, where 
it was not fixed. Looked at closely, the value of this inner 
unity is enhanced by the fact that several members were not 
shaped and welded into a whole by one hand, but came to their 
present position from various authorities. Moreover, the question 


as to the age of these authorities, respecting which criticism is less 
than ever agreed, is for us of secondary importance, considering 
the above-stated circumstance, that their age does not coincide 
with that of the oracles of blessing contained in them. 

Let us see how the prophetic oracles contained in Genesis 
may possibly be distributed among the authorities indicated in 
the Pentateuch, a process in which certainly conjecture has wide 

The account of Creation (Gen. i. 1 ii. 3), describing God's first 
plan in respect to humanity, it is self-evident, cannot be 
regarded in the light of a history handed down by contemporaries. 
Here Job xxxviil 4 applies. Nor is there any trace of a 
prophetic revelation respecting the act of creation to one living 
later. But perhaps we have here a monument of what the 
earliest humanity, standing nearest to God and nature, read out 
of nature respecting its relation to God. That we have to do, 
not with a late didactic fiction, but with a primeval legacy of the 
world of nations, is shown by the parallels among other nations, 
especially by the closely-allied Babylonian version in the stone- 
inscriptions, beside which the Hebrew version in its simplicity 
looks so much more antique that a borrowing of the matter in 
the Babylonian exile is inconceivable. These traditions are older 
than the Hebrew nationality itself, which, however, does not 
preclude their having undergone a sifting and purifying in the 
spirit of the theocracy. 

The oracle of Destiny (Gen. iii.) is so closely connected with 
the history of the Fall, related in that chapter, that it must 
necessarily be assigned to the same authority as the latter ; and 
indeed it is the so-called Yahvistic authority (so named after 
the predominating use of the divine name njrr, but in the 
present section D^% ^V^) tna ^ nas narrated the primeval 
history and Israel's earlier history in prophetic style and spirit. 
Respecting the age of this redaction views differ widely, since 
this prophetic mode of thought continues in the nation down 
through centuries, especially from Samuel's days. But how 
mistaken it would be to think that the " myth " of the Fall 
could be invented in such an age, is proved by the connection of 
this history with the Babylonian inscriptions. True, no parallel 
has been found in the stone-inscriptions specifically to Gen. iii., 
as to the history of Creation or the Flood. But the entire 


material of the history of the Temptation confronts us so com- 
pletely and unmistakably in those monuments, that there can be 
no doubt of a connection with the Babylonian mythology. The 
tree of life, the cherubim, the demonic serpent, Paradise are 
plainly conceptions belonging to the primeval Babylonian circle. 1 
This history, therefore, is not a didactic fiction, thought out in 
the prophetic age, but is borrowed from the store of traditions 
brought by Israel's forefathers from Ur Chasdim. 2 

In the same way the blessing of Noah, which the Yahvist also 
seems to have received into his work, is in no sense a creation of 
his, but was already found in existence by him. The attempts 
to derive this oracle from specific circumstances of historical times 
have fallen through. 

Greater influence on the form of the oracles of blessing must 
be conceded to the authorities in the promises to Abraham, 
Isaac, Jacob ; and here too variations are seen in each narrator. 
But the variants are of no importance for the contents. To the 
prophetic narrator (Yahvist) appear to belong : Gen. xii. 1-3, 7, 
xiii. 14-17 (xv. 1-7, 13-21), xviii. 17-19 (xxii. 16-18); 
Isaac, xxvi. 2-5 (xxv. 23) ; Jacob, xxviii. 13 f . ; he also intro- 
duces Isaac's blessing, xxvii. 27 ff. On the other hand, Gen. 
xvii. 48 (15-21), addressed to Abraham, and xxviii. 3 f., 
xxxv. 11 f., to Jacob, are Elohistic. Jacob's blessing (xlix.) has a 
thoroughly original stamp. Chiefly on account of the oracle 
respecting Dan, applying to the judge Samson, criticism has 
transferred its origin to the later age of the Judges (Bleek, Tuch, 
Ewald, G. Baur, Steiner, etc.). On the other hand, in the oracle 
respecting Judah, Knobel, Wellhausen, and others see the 
Davidic epoch ; others come still farther down. For the internal 
grounds on which the possibility of real prophecy is contested, see 
G. Baur, i. p. 219 ; H. Schultz (2 ed.), p. 666 f . : The blessing 
is too ecstatic for a dying old man ; the prediction of the 
geographical and historical position of the tribes is too exactly 
defined (certainly only up to a certain limit of time), and also 
too unimportant, to be the subject of genuine prophecy ; the 
transmission of such oracles through a space of centuries is 
inconceivable, and so on. On the other hand, it must be remem- 
bered that in the aged Jacob there was a twofold natural basis 

1 George Smith, Genesis in Chaldaic. 

* Bredenkamp, Gesetz und Propheten, 1881, p. 75 f. 



for such distant vision : first, he knew from many years' residence 
the land to which his hope was turned ; secondly, a father's keen 
vision enabled him to see through the character of his sons. 
Modern theology, perhaps, may think that the geographical 
distribution of his sons in Canaan had no moral importance. 
But to Jacob the sight of the settlement of his children in the 
Promised Land was the necessary conclusion of his life. With 
it the promises made to him were fulfilled. Finally, as to 
transmission, no one will expect the words of Jacob to be 
protocolled with the precision of a notary. But such prophetic 
oracles were certainly handed down as a sacred legacy from 
generation to generation with great tenacity. The seriousnt 
the historical style of the Bible is security that they did not 
originate in the muse of a later poet, but were always handed 
down in the tradition of the race as an honourable inheritance. 
In confounding such productions of native power with the wticinia 
of the Book of Enoch and Esdras iv., Schultz denies the difference 
between original and copy. Had there never been genuine 
prophecy and genuine oracles of blessing, artificial imitation 
would have been unknown. Moreover, it is certain that no 
historic time can be shown when the picture sketched by Jacob 
for the final age was fully realized, and when, therefore, the 
" fabricating " of this blessing might be understood. How, e.g., 
would the portionless dismissing of Levi, the priestly tribe, which 
stood in high esteem even in the stormy days of the Judges, and 
still more after David's days, be explained ? l In general, all 
these patriarchal oracles are so elementary in character, that they 
by no means give the impression of vatidnia post eventum, or of 
productions of an intellectually advanced period. 

11. The Primitive divine Capacity and Destiny of Man 
(Gen. i 26-30). 

Nature itself, if viewed with an eye open to what is noble, 
shows the high, exceptional position that God assigned to man 
among the creatures. The account, Gen. i. 1-ii. 3, given through 
divine illumination, and reading the Creator's ideas in the laws 
pervading nature and His words in the works of creation, has 

1 Cf. Diestel, &ym Jacob's, 1853. Oehler, Theology of 0. T., yoL L p. 96. 


sketched man's position in relation to God and the world with 
incomparable brevity and sharpness : 

Gen. i. 2 6 : " Then spake God : Let us make (note A) men in 
the character of our image, after our likeness (note B). And 
they shall rule over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of 
the heaven, and over the cattle, and over the whole earth, and 
over every reptile creeping on earth." 

This saying contains two things : Man's primitive God-created 
capacity and God-willed destiny, his God-likeness and world- 
rulership. Certainly the latter is virtually conferred on man in 
the former ; but the two are not to be at once identified, as if 
the iTp. specified the whole import of the preceding expressions 
E? and fiiE" 1 }, and the outward superiority over creation consti- 
tuted man's divine nobility. On the contrary, in himself, apart 
from his relation to the world, man bears in his attributes the 
image of God specifically distinguishing him from all lower 
creatures ; just as it is peculiar to the plant in distinction from 
preceding inorganic structures to propagate itself by seed 
(ver. 12), and to the animal to have a "living soul," a sensitive 
life-focus, where all impressions meet, and whence all impulses 
flow. By the image of God, therefore, we are to understand the 
essence and sum of that which distinguishes man from the 
creation subject to him. It is impossible here to think of a mere 
corporeal attribute, since the divine spirit of life (L 2, c ii, 7) 
must inhere in this image of God in special degree. Man's 
corporeity, indeed, is far from indifferent. It is so constituted as, 
like that of no other earthly creature, to express the divine 
spirituality inherent in man, forming, as it does, an unsurpassable 
harmonious whole, equally furnished with every organ for receiving 
divine impressions and every member for expressing volition, and 
at the same time by its erect build hinting the authority man is 
designed to exercise. But not merely in his outward appearance, 
still more in the fact that as an ethical, personal being, man 
deliberates and speaks and acts consciously like God, whilst 
plants and animals merely represent species without personality, 1 
does the peculiar excellence of man expressed in those phrases 
his affinity with God come clearly out ; and from this 
affinity follows his calling to rule on the earth like God. Despite 
the signs of comparative divine life visible in plants and animals, 
1 Cf. the o characteristic of them. 


they are expressly subordinated to man (vers. 29, 30), who not 
merely gives glimpses of the working of divine powers in him, but 
whose being and work seem a reflex of the divine. 

The fact that man's true essence, his specific peculiarity, is 
declared to be likeness to God, involves both his dependence on 
God and his elevation above the world. What he has more than 
the lower creatures he inherits from the Deity, as something in 
the highest degree peculiar to and essentially distinctive of the 
Deity. For that the image presents but a faint reflex of the 
archetype, is evident of itself. Only so far as man is and 
remains a reflection of God's glory does he possess his special 
dignity and his lordship on earth. But from the first this lord- 
ship is proposed as the reward of labour, the goal of a course of 
development. The summons of ver. 28 especially renders it 
certain that man will not become ruler of the earth apart from 
his own effort, although his patent of nobility, as old as the 
primal beginning, secures to him the right to this rule over the 
world. As men multiply gradually until they fill the earth 
intended for their dwelling-place, so by degrees they will attain 
more and more perfect power over it, while of course they are to 
seek their chief greatness in likeness to God. This is man's 
true destiny in the world : He is to prove himself lord of nature 
~by culture,, and this culture is to be an all-sided reflection of his 
relation to God. 

It is impossible to express the significance of man more truly 
and profoundly than is done in the childlike words that announce 
the divine consultation respecting him. All that natural history 
teaches respecting man's relation to the universe confirms in full 
the account of Gen. i. First, the ground was prepared for him, 
his support and environment, first his form was made ready in 
more imperfect structures, but structures gradually aspiring after 
perfection during entire periods, until in man this perfection was 
reached and the new creation ceased in man, who, however, is 
not merely distinguished from the lower creatures in degree, but 
represents essentially a higher principle that finds expression in 
no other creature. But as man is the goal of nature, so in 
virtue of that higher principle the aim of his own efforts, as the 
history of civilisation proves, is everywhere and always to make 
the forces of nature more and more completely his subjects. 
And the history of religion shows how the fulfilling of his voca- 


tion in the world has always been determined by his relation to 
God. Although, in consequence of overlooking his dependence 
on God or of defacing the divine image, he has very often 
striven after an arbitrary, self-willed, and therefore impious rule 
over the world, still even this perverted effort, with its immense 
struggles, partial successes, and final miscarriages, is a witness to 
the primitive divine purpose, that man is to rule on earth as an 
image of his Creator. But the realization of this lofty aim was 
reserved for the history of redemption. For when corruption had 
penetrated into human nature, there was needed in order to this 
result the higher life-force bestowed on humanity in Jesus Christ, 
in whom the kingdom of God has come on earth, and by whom it 
will be perfected. Thus, on the first leaf of the Bible the germ 
of the end is contained ; the first word of God respecting man 
involves His entire plan for humanity, which will be all the 
more gloriously realized the more numerous the hindrances in 
the way. 

It is from the standpoint of this ideal primitive destiny that 
the eighth Psalm views man the lord of nature, outwardly 
insignificant, but raised by God's grace above every earthly 
creature, ver. 3 ff. : 

" When I behold Thy heavens, the work of Thy fingers, the 
moon and the stars, which Thou hast prepared ; what is man, 
that Thou thinkest of him, and the son of man, that Thou 
takest interest in him ? And Thou didst put him little below 
divine beings, with honour and glory Thou crownedst him, thou 
madest him ruler over the work of Thy hands, all things didst 
Thou put under his feet," etc. 

Clearly the psalm speaks of the dignity of ruler conferred on 
man generally in distinction from all visible creatures, having its 
root in God's relation of intimate communion with him (ver. 5). 
Since, however, the divine idea of humanity on both sides (in 
relation to God as well as to the world) has attained full reality 
only in one " Son of man," or awaits full realization through 
him, the author of the Hebrews (ii. 6 ff.) is fully justified in 
raising the psalm an octave higher, and referring it to the true, 
perfected Son of man. 1 Only the reference to the future Adam 2 
must not be imported into the translation, as is done by Luther, 
who has also misunderstood ver. 5. 

1 Cf. also 1 Cor. xv. 47 ; Eyli. i. 22. - I Cor. xv. 45 ; Rom. v. 12. 


NOTE A. The plural n ^'W is neither to be regarded as plur. 
majest (Knobel), nor as plural of resolve, self-summoning, reflection 
(Hitzig on Isa. vi. 8 ; Tuch, H. Schultz). Nor can the three persons 
of the Godhead be imported directly into the Old Testament, as 
is done by the exposition of the early Church. And the angels 
cannot be introduced, at least as working along with God. On the 
contrary, this plural is explained here as in the neighbouring rrnbtf 
(Dillmann). The Godhead in its fulness of distinctions compre- 
hends many organs of service, activity, and revelation. These 
together with God form over against man a unity of a divine kind. 
Cf. Gen. iii. 22 ; Isa. vi. 8 ; Ps. viii. 5. After the image of this" divine 
kind man was created. 

NOTE B. The patristic and then the ecclesiastical exposition 
attempted to draw an essential distinction between the ideas D^> 
and niDI, referring the former to the substance, the latter to the 
accidents, making the former denote the inalienable affinity of 
essence, the latter the likeness to God defaced by the Fall. It 
is true, indeed, that man's likeness to God was sullied by the Fall 
without being destroyed, as his lordship over nature was disturbed, 
without, however, coming to an end. But it is wrong to distribute 
this twofold reference between the two expressions which are 
substantially synonymous in Hebrew idiom, as Calvin rightly 
perceived. Cf. Zockler, Die Lehre vom Urstand des Menschen 
(1879), p. 54-73. 

12. Man's Common State of Sinfulness (the Protevangdium). 

"Whereas in Gen. i. 1-ii. 3 the ordering of the Cosmos, of 
which man is the crown, is brought before us in an articulated 
series of daily works, at the conclusion of which man is appointed 
ruler over the earth, on which " everything is very good," the 
separate narrative ii. 4 ff. passes at once to the relation of man 
to the natural creatures as well as to God ; and in a free order, 
determined simply by the necessities of the narrative, it depicts 
the contrast between the primitive state of blissful innocence and 
the common life of man in a state of sin and suffering closed by 
death. The state of paradisaic happiness was really the object 
of the Creator's gracious will. But as the existence of heaven 
and earth, the existence of plants, animals, and man each discloses 
a divine word, so the resistance of nature to man's labour, the 
suffering and death from which he will never be free, each discloses 
another. These woes, however, are not instituted by a primal word 
of God, coeval witli the creative words of the beginning. "What 


God said at first brought forth life, and everything created was 
good. The evil, culminating in death and summed up in it, is 
at first only instituted by God conditionally (ii. 1 7) ; suffering 
and death first became a general law of nature through man's 
fall, through his presumptuous disobedience to God's ordinance ; 
man is excluded from his primitive state of life-fellowship with 
God (iii. 22 ff.). This penal state, that has become man's com- 
mon lot, is more precisely specialized (iii. 16 ff.) in accordance 
with the universal distinction of male and female. The suffering 
bound up with human nature dates from the divine judgment 
upon the original Fall of man. Hence spring the sorrow and 
dependence inseparably joined with the nature of woman; since 
only through suffering, in dependence on man, can she fulfil her 
destiny of motherhood, ver. 16; hence the passive resistance of 
nature, making man's work of tillage so burdensome (verTl 7 ff.), 
since the rule over the earth promised to him (i. 28) can only be 
won at the cost of constant toil. The destiny of man to till the 
earth remains, but the privilege has become a servitude. 

If we cast a glance at the first of the three divine words 
referring to the serpent, iii. 14, 15, it seems natural at first sight 
to take this oracle in a purely physical sense : 

" Then spake Yahveh God to the serpent : Because thou 
hast done this thing, cursed art thou above (note A) all 
cattle, and above all beasts of the field. On thy belly shalt 
thou go, and dust shalt thou eat (note B) all the days of thy 
life. And enmity will I put between thee and the woman, 
and between thy seed and her seed. It shall crush to pieces 
thy head, and thou shalt crush his heel " (note C). 

Is not the serpent's walking on its belly just as natural to it 
as it is to the woman to bring forth in suffering, or to the ground 
to bear thorns and thistles ? What is said further of the heredi- 
tary enmity l between the serpent and the seed of the woman 
might be supposed to refer merely to the natural aversion and 
enmity of the two races, in consequence of which they injure and 
destroy each other wherever possible. This interpretation would 
also perhaps include the fact that clearly in this struggle for life 
and death the serpent is worsted. Indeed, in this oracle the 

1 As here the enmity of the serpent and its seed is spoken of, the whole serpent- 
race being included, so the Arabs to-day practise charms against the bite " of the 
serpent and its brother " in this sense (v. Orelli, Durch's Heilige Land, p. 48). 


serpent as the most guilty is said to receive the severest sentence. 
And in point of fact it is degraded to the dust, whilst man 
remains erect. The consequence of this is that he is able to 
crush its head, whilst at most it strikes his heel. Generally, the 
victory is assured to man, although not without painful suffering ; 
defeat to the serpent, although not without revenge. Accordingly 
this subjection of the serpent to man, required by justice, finds its 
expression in the physical order of things. According to the 
literal words, therefore, the oracle in itself might simply contain 
the explanation of the strange fact that the serpent so fair and 
clever, and abject beyond other creatures is forced to go on its 
belly in the dust, 1 and is hateful and hostile to man as nothing 
else is. That the unhappy state resulting from this enmity will 
ever cease, there is nothing to indicate, but it would be first 
learnt from oracles like Isa. Ixv. 25. 

But the context would forbid our stopping at this singular 
natural fact, even if the Babylonian mythology did not put 
the demonic character of the serpent beyond doubt. 2 As the 
entire account is plainly not exhausted in the literal meaning of 
the words, as the trees and fruits of Paradise are embodiments 
of something spiritual, so is this especially the case with the 
creature condemned as a tempter (ver. 14 : nsT 9W <3). 3 The 
poisonous serpent, with its glistening, rainbow colours, its tortuous 
windings, its duplicity and bewitching gaze, is the embodied 
temptation, as afterwards in its ignominious abasement and 
hatefulness it represents the embodied curse. 4 True, in the 
childishly naive representation so thoroughly in keeping with the 
conceptions of the first men, the demonic tempter is not yet 
distinguished from the sensible temptation ; but the very fact 
that, in and with the animal, the power tempting man to evil, 
the power that has proved fatal to man, is at the same time 
abased to the dust, involves a promise. First of all it is signi- 
' ficant that man is to be in constant conflict with this power ; he 
is therefore destined to maintain a sterner conflict than the one 
for daily bread the conflict with evil, against which he must 

1 Cf. the Sanscrit name for serpent : uraga, breast-goer. 

2 Cf. Smith, Genesis in Chaldaic. 

3 That the Hebrews did not understand this myth, coming to them from without, 
in a spiritual sense (Hitzig, Bibl. Theol. p. 141), is a daring assertion in view of the 
psychological truth and delicacy by which the Hebrew narrative is distinguished. 

* Cf. Delitzsch, Comm. zurQenesis, 4th ed. p. 147. 


be always on his guard, since otherwise it will cause him bitter 
woe; cf. Gen. iv. 7. Even this divinely-established hostility// 
between him and the evil power is a blessing ; for what would 
become of man, if he only knew the glistening serpent of tempta- 
tion, working him constant ill, and did not also know the serpent 
under the curse ? And in the struggle with this power of evil a II 
certain superiority is conferred on him, so that he is able to 
conquer the foe, who has brought all sorrow on earth, although 
the victory is not won without grievous suffering. For he 
the tempted one remains erect, whilst the tempter must needs 
crawl at his feet. This implies that God designs him to prevail 
over the animal, and so over the power that robbed him of inno- 
cence and blessedness. Man's aim must consequently be, not 
merely to rule over the earth, to break its passive resistance, I 
but in particular to tread under his feet the evil so perilous to him ;'/ 
cf. Gen. iv. 7. 

From this point the interpretation of the early Church goes a 
step farther : The seed of the woman will bear off the victory, not 
merely in single conflicts, but, compressed into a personal unity,// 
in a definitive decisive conflict. So the Jerusalem Targum. In 
this case the ^^ no longer predicts something merely customary 
and common to man ; it foretells something historical, destined 
one day to happen. Here the explanation, looking from the 
standpoint of historical fulfilment, sees greater definiteness in the 
general language than is expressed therein or could be evident to 
the first hearers. It is not definitely said whether the prolonged 
conflict between the woman's seed and serpent's seed will ever 
find a conclusive, final decision in time. But it is implied in the 
language that, should such a crisis occur, the issue will be in 
favour of the woman's seed. 

On the other explanation, greater definiteness is given to the 
word JHT than belongs to it, according to the obvious meaning 
and context. The early Church understood it directly of the 
Messiah in the individual sense. 1 Calvin, 2 however, and the 
Eeformed divines in his train, acknowledged the collective sense of 
JHT as well as of Kin ; whereas the older Lutherans, 3 for the most 

1 Irenseus, Clemens Al., Cyprian ; see G. Baur, p. ]65. 

2 See Calvin on the passage : Generaliter semen interpreter de posteris. 

3 According to Luther, Flacius, the Formula of Concord. In recent days Bohl of 
the Eeformed side advocates the view generally given up by the Lutherans. He 


part, maintained the individual signification. 1 Of course the col- 
lective notion, which as such has also its mental unity (cf. Gal. 
iii. 16), does not preclude the abstract becoming a personal unity, 
or preclude posterity in a single person obtaining perfect victory 
over the power of evil. But all that is certain from the quite 
general terms of the oracle is, that if a single person should bring 
this severe struggle to a triumphant end, and so fulfil the destiny 
of the entire race, he will be a son of the woman. That all men 
will not be stedfast in this life-struggle and share in the victory, 
but many of them will succumb and even adopt the nature of the 
evil one, 2 is not as yet indicated in this universal promise. 

Accordingly a real promise lies in the oracle, and with deep 
spiritual insight the Church has found in it the Trp&rov evay- 
<ye\iov. Certainly the promise is not couched in the form of a 
blessing, but of a curse. The entire history of redemption takes 
its start from the Fall of man, and begins with a judgment 
governing his whole state of life. But a beam of grace towards 
fallen humanity shines unmistakably through the gloom of divine 
retribution. For 1. Man's wearisome labour is not without 
fruit for him, but is the way to the sustenance and enjoyment of 
life. 2. Woman's suffering is not without result to her, but the 
way to the perpetuation of life and the joy of motherhood. 3. 
The perilous, painful conflict against the power of evil is no 
hopeless, useless one, but the way to victory. 

Here in the present passage is the first reference to the future 
development of the human species, to the woman's seed so full 
of hope. To the latter, not to the woman herself, is the real 
conflict and victory over the serpent assured. To the woman's 
seed belongs the future; whereas no higher development, no 
fuller energy, awaits the serpent's seed. Hence the old serpent 
itself remains the subject and object of the future conflict. 
Henceforth man's gaze is no longer turned backwards in longing 
after a lost Paradise, but is directed hopefully to the future, 3 

also revives the Messianic translation of iv. 1, which the facts make impossible : I 
have gained a man, Yahveh (instead of : with Yahveh's aid), where Eve is supposed 
to designate her first-born the God-man promised to her ! 

1 The Catholics refer even the subject-pronoun to Mary, the Vulgate giving : 
" ipsa conteret," which Bellarmine earnestly defends, De Vtrbo Dei, ii. 12 ; 
whereas Calvin waxes wroth at this unwarranted interpolation. 

2 Matt. iii. 7, xxiii. 33 ; John viii. 44 ; Wisd. ii. 24. 

3 Gen. iii. 20, iv. 1, v. 29. 


which in undreamed richness and variety will unfold the theme 
of man's conflict with the evil one, tending from the first towards 
a conclusion lying beyond human thought. 

As regards the mode of the final redemption, we learn from 
the N. T. revelation that this divine word of the beginning, 
as yet undeveloped, carried in it the germ of the finally revealed 
salvation. The woman's seed was to find its consummation in 
one person - the Son of man, so called because in Him the jj 
idea of man is perfectly realized (see p. 85). By Him, who 
always victoriously trod the tempter under foot, the decisive 
victory has been won, 1 not without the victor being wounded 
by the serpent's bite, i.e. experiencing in fullest measure the 
death that is the bitterest import of the curse which is the 
fruit of sin. In Him, and with Him, men also are victors over 
the evil one, 2 and may be delivered from the entire curse 
descending from Adam to the race. 3 For the consummation 
of the state which He initiates will also bring to an end the 
resistance man meets with from the soil, the plant and animal 
world, as well as bring redemption from the doom of death 
(Eom. viii. 19 ff.). It is a noteworthy coincidence, that the 
serpent-conqueror was in special sense the woman's seed, born 
of woman, without being the offspring of a man. Here, too, 
it holds good : Where the transgression abounded, grace showed 
itself still mightier. As the woman was more accessible to the 
tempter than the man, so, being the weaker vessel, she showed 
herself more receptive to divine grace. As misery was broiight 
into the world by woman, so the Eedeemer also was born of 
her. In the same way from the perfect revelation in Christ a 
clearer light falls on the nature of the tempter embodied in the 
animal. The tempting power, encountered by the first human 
beings in sensuous shape, and to their thoughts inseparable 
i'rom it, is there revealed in its spiritual nature and indepen- 
dence. 4 Herein lies the capacity of the visible creation for 
redemption. Thus the outlines of the divine plan of salvation 
glimmer through the veil of the first oracle. That oracle establishes 
not only all men's need of redemption, but also their capacity 
for redemption. For the evil inherent in all had not its primal 
seat in man ; for which reason also the divine curse proper is 

1 1 John iii. 8 ; Heb. ii. 14 f. ; Col. ii. 15. 2 Eom. xvi. 20. 

3 Horn. v. 12 ff. 4 Rev. xii. 9, xx. 2. 


not laid on him. The grand revelation implied in the fact 
that sin, suffering, and death are not set forth as something 
necessarily bound up with human nature, but something that 
came on man in consequence of his degeneracy, is all the more 
important as this universal need of redemption and its satis- 
faction are at first thrown into the background by a provisional 
realization of the rule of God in a portion of the sinful world. 

NOTE A. |p is a particle of distinction, eminence. By its 
subjection to the curse the serpent is distinguished from all 
animals, marked off from all. Quite similarly it is said in Judg. 
v. 24 : Blessed above women (D^3O) blessed like none else. Cf. 
Deut. xxxiiL 24 and Gen. iii. 1. The word does not include other 
animals being cursed, but also does not exclude it. In any case 
they are not like the serpent. 

NOTE B. isy ^ox does not refer to the food of the serpent in 
the proper sense, but is an expression meant to picture vividly 
the humiliation involved in its mode of motion. Cf. Micah 
vii. 17 and our " to bite the dust." Hofmann (Schriftbeiveis, 
i. 574) : " Eating dust is joined to its prostrate position, and 
serves along with the latter to picture the state of abasement in 
which it is found in contrast to man who stands erect on his feet." 
Still it is not to be denied that many nations have believed that 
the serpent really eats dust, Bochart, Hicrozoicon, t. iii. p. 245, 
ed. Eos. According to Isa. Ixv. 25, in the future ideal state of 
peace the serpent is content with dust, and therefore no longer 
bites. For the rest, the narrative must not be pressed to mean 
that before the condemnation the serpent had another form of 
motion (Josephus, Targ. Jonathan, etc.). As man first perceived 
his nakedness after the Fall, so the serpent's mode of life first 
seemed an ignominious humiliation to it after the curse. 

NOTE C. The meaning catch at, pursue after (= e lSU'), is not 
sufficiently assured to *)!> by Job ix. 17, although the LXX. 
(rqpfTv) and Onkelos give a similar sense. On the other hand, 
Jerome rejects servabit and prefers conteret. Hence the Vulgate 
has first conteret and then insididberis. Cocceius, Umbreit, v. 
Bohlen, Ewald, Knobel, Hupfeld, Dillmann, and others revive 
the association with e]KtP: pant for, catch at, pursue after, in 
which case it would express the bare conatus. Delitzsch, Heng- 
stenberg, Tuch, Wright, G. Baur (" strike at " ?), Keil, and others, 
after Rom. xvi. 20, and the Rabbins, with the Syriac (o^OyJ and 
and Samaritan versions, adhere to the meaning secured to 


the root f)t? by the dialects (Syriac ... ^^ an d _a~K, Aramaic 
spB>, K2E>. S)BE>) : grind, bruise, crush. Inaptly Lange : grasp, lay 


hold of, hit. The conjunction of the word with 2py also makes 
no difficulty. It is explained first by the intended rhythm, and 
again by the custom of the Sheuiites to express such thrusts by 

verbs of striking. Cf. nan, Jonah iv. 7, the Arabic c_j.J of the 

scorpion, and also the Latin ictus serpentis, feriri a serpente, 
Greek cXjj<r<j/v, which the Grcec. Ven. uses both times. Respecting 
the double accusative with the verb, see Gesenius, Grammar, 
139. 2. 

13. T/ie TJireefold Development of Mankind (Noah's Blessing), 
Gen. ix. 25-27. 

The development of mankind, as might be expected from the 
oracle just examined, was interrupted by the breaking in of 
unnatural depravity, having for its consequence an extraordinary 
intervention of divine justice. After the human race had been 
checked in its extension by the judgment of the great Flood, it 
appears again, so far at least as it lies within the horizon of the 
Bible, comprised in a personal unity that of the sole-surviving 
Noah. 1 

Noah, with his family, is placed by God in a covenant relation, 
ix. 8 ff. But the Biblical idea of " covenant " by no means 
implies equal rights, and in consequence of this similar reciprocal 
conditions, in the two contracting parties, JV"]3 denotes properly 
settlement, adjustment, solemn conditioning, arranging, 2 but 
especially a conditioning by which God puts Himself in a special 
relation to men, more closely specializes the relation existing 
already between Him and all men. On this understanding of the 
word and idea it is obvious that the initiative proceeds entirely 
from God, and we see why the obligations of men are not always 
expressly set forth as covenant conditions. God makes such an 
arrangement in sovereign grace, and only in the second place is the 
new relation to God to take .shape in human life. Thus in vi. 18, 
ix. 11 ff., nothing is said of conditions to be observed by Noah. 
Rather it is a covenant of grace, in which God binds Himself by 

1 According to ver. 29, this name expresses the longing for a comforter under the 
divinely-inflicted weariness of tilling the land. Thus the human race, groaning 
under the curse of Gen. iii., to say nothing of the Flood, set its hope of alleviation on 
his divinely promised posterity. 

2 Cf. 2iattxi, LXX., testamentum. See Hos. ii. 20. 


promise. Certainly in ix. 1 ff . a new order of life is enjoined, 
but the covenant relation is not expressly made dependent on the 
keeping of these precepts. In the rainbow God gives a covenant 
sign to remind both sides of the promise He had given. 

The substance of the divine covenant made with Noah, and in 
him with all mankind, consists in the promise that God will not 
again bring a judgment of universal destruction on mankind after 
the manner of the great Flood. The Yahvist, also, while not 
using the form m2, gives eloquent expression to this divine 
decree of love respecting rescued humanity, making the Lord say 
to Himself in response to Noah's thank-offering : 

" Henceforth I will not again curse the ground for man's sake, 
because the imagining of man's heart is evil from his youth, 1 
and henceforth I will not again smite every living thing as I 
have done. As long as the earth endures, sowing and reaping, 
and frost and heat, and summer and winter, and day and 
night, shall not be interrupted," viii. 2 1 ff. 

It is an exceedingly profound and true thought, that the 
normal succession of days and years, on which the existence of 
the earth and the welfare of man's life depend, and therefore the 
regular course of nature, by reason of the radical sinfulness of the 
human race, are no fixed and self-evident course of things, as is 
usually supposed, but a voluntary gift of divine grace. The 
continuance of creation in beautiful harmony, the unbroken 
development of the history of humanity, is a fruit of divine 
grace, which will not let God's glorious plan in reference to 
creation and humanity be frustrated by man's sin. And that 
gracious decree is linked to Noah's name. It was carried out 
in the sparing of Noah, and again especially in the unchecked 
growth of his posterity, which, though without Noah's 
disposition, and in great part inwardly estranged from God, 
was destined to fulfil outwardly the end of man's creation, 
and to spread without limit in space and time. God's grace 
does not deprive the world's history of its basis, but leaves 
it free scope. 

In reference to the duration of this development of humanity, 

1 "2^> "IV "G does not belong to P^piX N^ but developes the Qixn "Wyz 
belonging to f);Jj5^ Thus it is not a ground of palliation to pacify the Lord, but 
rather a reason that might move Him to destroy the creature, if His grace did not 
restrain strict justice. 


the definitions ttyy Tfrk (ix. 12, cf. 16,JElokis) and p.Kn '9!^? ^ 
(viii. 22, Ydhvist] are synonymous. A time is meant of which 
no end is visible. No temporal limit of this covenant rela- 
tion enters into view ; which certainly does not mean that an 
end of this state is absolutely out of the question. The 
possibility of its duration being unlimited in a merely relative 
degree is even suggested by the last expression ; and with this 
the usage of D?ty is reconcilable, inasmuch as no positive limit 
of duration is within sight. 1 

Thus, after the divine covenant concluded with Noah, 
humanity was to go on developing without interruption. 
Noah's prophetic oracle then describes this development as 
threefold. Gen. ix. 25-27 characterizes the races of man- 
kind, so to speak, according to their theological diversity, as 
the one in Gen. iii. does according to their natural unity. 
Noah's blessing speaks of a historical development, as the former 
oracle of a natural one. 

Here also the oracle of blessing arises out of a curse on 
sin, but a curse having a reverse side of promise. This time, 
however, we have not an arrangement made directly by God, but 
a prediction of an inspired ancestor respecting his posterity, 
the outcome of prophetic prevision (cf. p. 78). This long vista 
opens before him on an occasion that gives him deep insight 
into the inner character of his sons ; and their varied 
character will impress a differing stamp on the main branches 
of mankind. The fact that God's relation to all nations, as 
previously His attitude to all creatures, is here traced back to 
an ethical ground, forms a worthy introitus to the history of 
the world and redemption ; in which God of His free grace will 
indeed choose a particular nation, yet not without the co-opera- 
tion of ethical grounds, and not without the ethical conduct 
of this chosen nation reacting on the covenant relation. 

The qualities which were conjoined in man generally, and in 
Noah specifically, found separate and characteristic expression in 
his sons. The evil which in the form of sensuousness had over- 
come even Noah, rose in Ham to shameless vice and flagitious, 
unnatural sensuality. Hence the curse of sin, encircling all 

1 Cf. on Q$>iy v. Orelli, Hebrdische Synonyma tier und Eivigkeit, p. 68 ff. ; 
ibid, on "riy (properly "perpetuity of all the days of the earth "), p. 31. 


mankind, smites him more directly. On the other hand, in 
the filial reverence and obedient love of his eldest son, Shem, 
Xoah sees his own piety. To him, accordingly, he promises 
his best blessing, that of the divine friendship in higher degree. 
The middle son, Japhet, followed the pious initiative of his 
elder brother, thus showing true human feeling, and fulfilling 
his duty as a son. To him, therefore, the blessing promised to 
man generally is imparted in richest measure, Gen. ix. 2527: 

" And he spake : CURSED be CANAAN ! A servant of servants 
let him be to his brethren ! And spake : Blessed be YAHVEH, the 
God of SHEM ! And let Canaan be a servant to him ! Wide 
room let God make for JAPHET ! And let his dwelling be in 
tents of glory ! And let Canaan be a servant to him ! " 

It is an aggravation of the divine displeasure, that in ver. 25 
the divine curse is directly inflicted on a man (as first in 
Cain's case, Gen. iv. 11, differently from Adam's case before). 
But this is only done to a portion of mankind in distinction 
from the other portions to which the divine blessing is assured 
in different forms. The fact that Ham is not mentioned in 
the curse is strange, 1 seeing that " his brothers " plainly are 
not the brothers named in Gen. x. 6, but Shem and Japhet. 
Thus in some sense Canaan stands as representative of Ham 
and all his race, in contrast to Shem and Japhet with their 
posterity. But why this substitution ? Certainly the chief 
consideration is that Canaan is the branch of Ham which 
came into most direct contact with the Israelites, and in which 
they saw the character of that progenitor most decidedly 
expressed, and the curse pronounced on him most openly 
fulfilled. Thus the curse was not executed forthwith on the 
progenitor, nor on all his posterity. But the rule of ignoble 
impulse, the absence of all nobler feeling, which showed itself in 
him, was in the course of history to develop on a large scale 
in a race given up to sensual sin, and this race will suffer the 
curse of slavery. So much is implied in this prophetic word 
of the patriarch. 

Not all Ham's posterity show moral decay in the same degree, 

1 One might be tempted to read straight away jpa i^N Dn "IVIK since the 
first member of the mashal seems too abrupt. : In any case in the twice-recurring 
refrain, which there is no reason whatever to question (in opposition to Olshausen), 
Canaan appears as bearing the curse which should fall on Ham. 


and not all fall an inglorious prey to slavery. Nimrod (Gen. 
x. 8 f.) was no "n?J. Egypt long enjoyed independence before 
succumbing to Shem and Japhet, and owed its culture principally 
to the good moral discipline it maintained in comparison with 
many heathen nations. But certainly neither the bringing salva- 
tion to the world, nor rule over the world, was granted to a 
Hamitic people. And in the Phoenicians, whose descendants 
were the Canaanites (note A) previously inhabiting the Promised 
Land, the Israelites saw the full development of sin up to utter 
depravity, as well as God's severity in punishing it. These 
Phoenicians were proverbial in antiquity for their craft, effeminacy, 
cruelty, and licentiousness. On this account retribution fell on 
this people in fullest measure. Its sway was never great in 
extent, nor was it able anywhere to maintain itself long against 
its foes. With its trade and its inventions, its mission in the world 
was perhaps to be a servile people. As the Shemites, especially 
the Israelites, robbed it of its lands and reduced it to bondage, so, 
despite all the strength of its cities and all the heroism of its 
warriors, it succumbed in turn to the Persian, Macedonian, and 
Eoman arms. The " fate of Carthage " was to yield, as that of 
Eome was to conquer. 

That the Negroes of Africa are to be classed with the Hamites 
is contested, 1 but scarcely with reason. That the black races 
came very early within the horizon of the ancient Israelites may, 
in view of the abode of the latter in Egypt, be assumed with 
certainty. Obviously they were then regarded as Hamites. Nor, 
considering the representative position in which Canaan stands 
to Ham, can it be maintained that in any case they were not 
included under the curse falling on Canaan. Eather the negro 
tribes are among the very peoples who exhibit Ham's character in 
its most aggravated form, and on this account fall a prey to the 
hardest slavery. That this is no justification of slavery, with its 
dishonour to human dignity and its outrages, such as have been 
practised even by Christians, would scarcely need to be said, if the 
present oracle had not been appealed to in this sense. 2 

Then in ver. 26 follows the blessing upon Shem, who had 
given the real impulse to the act of filial piety in concealing the 

1 E.g. by J. G. Miiller, Die Semiten in ihreva Verhaltniss zu Chamiten und 
Jctphetiten, 1872. 

2 See Diestel, Geschichte des Alten Testaments, p. 777. 



father's shame. This may be inferred from his age, since he 
appears as the first-born, and agrees with the large reward that 
he receives. 1 

Instead of blessing Shem himself, the aged father, with prophetic 
glance at Shem's future salvation, blesses (note B) Yahveh, the 
God of Shem, whom he sees in intimate union with Shem. The 
oracle of blessing is thus turned into praise of Him who is the 
source of blessing, and has proved Himself such. 2 Shem's highest 
happiness is that he has this God for his God. Here for the 
first time, as Luther notes, we find the genitival combination 
common afterwards : God of a man, nation, etc. For when 
humanity parts into different branches, the universal Deity also 
is specialized. To one portion of humanity the true, living God 
stands in a relation of mutual possession. 

For God, thus making Himself known in living, special revela- 
tion, the passage uses the name nirp as a proper name, whereas 
DTita has an appellative significance. DTi^x 3 signifies the Deity 
in the rich diversity of aspect (hence the plural) in which He 
manifests Himself to man in the sphere of creation and history, 
claiming man's reverence, mrr signifies the absolute God in His 
unconditional sovereignty, 4 not as one intuitively known to all men 
from daily experience, but as one to be made known to a small 
portion of mankind by special revelation. It is thus evident 
that D'nta might with a certain justice be applied to the gods 
of all nations, since the elementary manifestations of the Supreme 
Being underlie all the heathen conceptions and representations 
of God ; whereas, on the other hand, mil 11 became necessarily the 
proper name of the God of revelation, who made Himself known 
only to a portion of mankind, and in all His greatness only to 
one people. Yahveh, indeed, is not a particular God ; He is the 
alone true Being, of whom all DNI^N are merely outbeamings or 
mutilated shadows; He is crntan tear e^o^v, but in a more 

1 Perhaps also the singular in nj5'1 (ver. 23) alludes to this, so that 1 in riD" 1 ! would 
only express accompaniment. In any case, Shem stands first in this action. 

2 Gen. xiv. 20 ; Ex. xviii. 10 ; Dtmt. xxxiii. 20 ; 2 Sam. xviii. 28 ; 1 Kings x. 9. 


3 From fita, to fear, cf. <t^ ; cf. "jriS, Gen. xxxi. 42. 

- T( - T 

4 ITTIK "ltJ>K fVnX, Ex. iii. 14. The hiphil derivation, preferred by many in 
recent days, " He who calls into existence," is in any case foreign to Hebrew 
thought, nor can it be verified on linguistic grounds. See Delitzsch in the 

ftir lutherisclie Theologie, 1877, p. 593 tf. 


glorious revelation of His nature than the latter name expressed. 
He is the God of the history of redemption, as the former is of 
the history of nature and the world. While it is said that the 
curse will be fully realized in a branch of the tribe of Ham 
(Canaan), there is no intimation of this kind in the case of Shem, 
because the progress of the patriarchal promise and history shows 
of itself that Yahveh's perfect revelation was granted to a 
particular people. Although we must repudiate the exaggeration 
of Renan, that the root of monotheism is to be sought in the 
peculiar temperament of the Shemites, the fact remains, that the 
specific Yahveh-religion of Israel was built up on the basis of a 
monotheism prevailing over a wider area, and already contrasting 
favourably with heathenism. Moreover, the three great mono- 
theistic religious Judaism, Christianity, Islam issued from the 
tents of Shem. 

Then the curse, which was at first put in the foreground, 
follows as the gloomy background, against which the blessing 
shines all the brighter : " And let Canaan be a servant to him," l 
words which remind us chiefly of the ignominious extermination 
and subjugation (Josh. ix. 23) of the Canaanites by the Israelites. 

Ver. 27. To the third son, Japhet, also a happy omen is given 
by way of reward. This is done with an allusion to his name, a 
favourite course in oracles of blessing, 2 as the name Canaan 
previously, suggesting meanness, stooping, humiliation, introduces 
the lot of slavery. The name na^ leads to the oracle "&&, where, 
indeed, a verb of unusual form and signification is chosen for 
the sake of the rhythm : Wide room may God make (note C) for 
Japhet ! certainly an outlook rich in promise for his descendants. 
For wide room, in which it may spread, is to his race the con- 
dition of prosperous development, and also its consequence. As 
matter of fact, Japhet has extended in breadth. He has 
spread, not merely over an important part of Asia, but also 
over the distant, broad island-continent of JEurope. And to this 
geographical extension correspond his conquests in the intel- 
lectual field. In all branches of culture he has borne off the 

1 ID? might perhaps refer as a plural suffix to the collective idea " Shem" (and 
his posterity, Tuch), or be an echo of VnK^> hut is rather to he regarded as a 
singular form=i^. Cf. Gesenius, Grammar (23rd ed.), 108, 2, note 2 ; Ewald, 
Gram. 247 d. 1. 3. 

2 Cf. Jacob's blessing. 


p;ilm. The Indo-Germans have attained world-wide supremacy 
in the intellectual as well as physical sphere. This is the work of 
D'nta, " the Deity to be feared," who has deposited His revelation 
in nature and human history, and even rewards the 8ei(ri8ai/j.ovia 
of the heathen with rich benedictions, which, however, are chiefly 
of a natural order. The fair flowers put forth in Hellenic civilisa- 
tion owed their ideal consecration to the loving nurture of divine 
intimations in nature and human life, and quickly withered away 
on the entrance of moral corruption. Just so the matchless 
development of power in ancient Rome had the secret of its 
strength in pious reverence for the divine, and rapidly fell to 
pieces when this serious spirit vanished away. 

But the second hemistich **H*l** fr&] is difficult. The 
chief question in dispute is, who is to be considered the subject 
of pB*i. Among moderns, von Hofmann, Baumgarten, H. 
Schultz, 1 after the example of Onkelos and other Jewish ex- 
positors and also Theodoret, have taken God as the subject, which 
would give an attractive and highly significant sense : Japhet 
gains the wide world, but Shem's distinction consists in this, that 
God dwells in his midst. pB> is used specially of the dwelling 
of God (Num. xxxv. 34). By the later Jewish theologians His 
gracious presence is called directly the <"UW, a reminiscence of 
Onkelos. Nor is there any weight in the objection usually urged 
against this interpretation, that the parallelism requires Japhet 
as the subject in this verse, since Shem has been dismissed in 
the preceding one ; for, just as the curse on Canaan recurs, so 
the blessing on Shem may recur, and we should thus obtain the 
pleasing arrangement: 1. Curse on Canaan; 2. Blessing of first- 
born on Shem and its antithesis in the curse on Canaan ; 3. The 
second blessing of the middle brother, with reminiscences of the 
higher blessing of the first and the curse on the third. Neverthe- 
less, the majority of ancient and modern expositors give up the 
reference of pen to God, as it seems to us rightly. For it cannot 
be denied that in the first hemistich the emphasis lies on the 
repeated ns% not on D\I$>K, on which account the harmony of 
style is best preserved by referring what follows to Japhet. An 
antithetical relation of the two clauses (but He will dwell) would 
of necessity have been noted in the language used. 2 More 

1 A. T. Theologie, 2nd ed. 677 f. 

* See the form in Stahelin and Dillmann, Comrn, zur Oenesis. 


especially we should expect to find the name mrp, seeing that 
God dwells in Shem's tents as Yahveh. The plural designation 
of place would also be strange, since God elsewhere always 
dwells in His ?nfc ; yet this might perhaps be explained by 
the indefinite generality of the oracle. But supposing Japhet 
to be taken as the subject, his dwelling " in the tents of Shem " l 
makes no less difficulty. Some, not without anti-Jewish tendency, 
have after Justin M. (c. Tryp. 139) understood a hostile occupa- 
tion of the Shemitic country, 2 which would introduce a quite 
incomprehensible infringement of Shem's birthright-blessing. Par 
more in keeping with the connection would be the interpretation 
to the effect that Japhet is to acquire a share in this birthright- 
blessing, entering into brotherly fellowship with Shem by peace- 
able residence with him, just as the two joined with brotherly 
feeling in the pious act to their father. But certain as it is that 
the historical fulfilment proves that Japhet was to be received 
into spiritual fellowship with Shem, and so to share as his guest 
in the highest blessings, still it is more than doubtful whether 
such a thought could be so expressed. The dwelling of this 
race in the tents of the former seems to give the impression, 
if not of conquest, 3 still of a crowding inconvenient to both in 
strange contrast with the n%\ The use of the phrase to denote 
peaceful, hospitable relation cannot be proved. And even if this 
meaning were usual, the absence of all intimation of any bless- 
ing which Japhet was to seek and expect there, would be strange. 
Nor does the uniform refrain, in which the 1O^> above was to be 
taken as a singular, favour any reference to Shem in this phrase. 
Accordingly, since the days of J. D. Michaelis many 4 have taken 
DB> in ver. 2 7 as an appellative : 5 renowned tents, properly tents 
towering above space and time, of which fama tells far and wide, 
early and late. Certainly in this association the word Dvns 
looks very modest ; still it harmonizes with the notions of 
primeval simplicity. The strongest objection that can be raised 
against this interpretation is the ambiguity occasioned by the 
double use of DE> in vers. 26, 27. But precisely in this asso- 

1 LXX., Calvin, Delitzsch, Tuch, G. Baur, Hengstenberg, Dillmann, J. P. 
Lange, G. Fr. Oehler (A. T. Theology, i. 82). 

2 So Bochart, Clericus, Eosenmiiller, and still Hengstenberg, Sorensen. 

3 The phrase is so used in 1 Chron. v. 10. 

* Vater, Schott, Gesenius, de "Wette, Winer, Stahelin, Schumann, Knobel, Anger. 
5 As in Gen. vi. 4 ; Num. xvi. 2; cf. 1 Chron. v. 24 ; Job xxx. 8. 


nance, according to our view, lies the explanation of the surprising 
expression. As the oldest Hebrew mashals are fond of assonance, 
especially at the close of the strophe, so here not only is the 
refrain on Canaan purposely repeated with like sounds, but 
in DK> 7HX3 the CB> *r6 is echoed with very slight variation in 

Japhet is to have the lion's share, not only of the possession 
of the world, but also of the glory of history. Canaan can dis- 
pute neither with him, but on the contrary is subject to him. 
Shem's prerogative is more internal, intellectual, divine ; he has 
indeed his Ii33, his special glory, but this is more than mere 
worldly renown (D { always refers to consideration in men's eyes, 
and has a profane character) ; its root is simply in his special 
relation to the God of revelation. 

Thus a threefold development of humanity is foreseen in this 
oracle. One portion of it will be received into a specially 
intimate relation to God, who reveals Himself to it as Yahveh. 
It will be the depository of the history of revelation and redemp- 
tion. Another will extend prosperously in the world and 
acquire lasting renown, by the favour of the God who makes 
everything go well with all who fear and honour him by right 
conduct. It will be the depository of culture, and the heroic 
race of history. A third for its ungodliness, in addition to 
the curse of the ground, will bear the curse of history, subjected 
and enslaved by its brethren, lowest in the world's history as in 
that of redemption, laden with the world's ban. These are the 
different attitudes which the several branches of humanity will 
henceforth assume to God. If these branches are here attached 
to the sons of Noah, it is not meant that all Shemitic nations 
will be united with Yahveh and all Hamitic nations laden with 
the curse, and still less that all individuals among these nations 
will assume their ancestors' attitude to God. This is opposed 
by the solitariness of Canaan in the curse, and still further by the 
solitariness of Israel in the blessing. But regarding history as a 
whole, we see that certain characteristics are hereditary, not 
merely in nations, but even in families of nations. On these 
leading types, which will be more or less reproduced in their 
posterity, blessing and curse are here pronounced. Thus this 
pithy oracle, whenever it arose and by whomsoever spoken, 
contains the grand programme of the development of mankind 


in its separate lines. The brief saying to Japliet opens out a 
wide prospect of a general history rich in external and intellectual 
results, while the still briefer one to Shem carries in its bosom 
the germ of the history of redemption. 

The question from whom such an oracle sprang or received 
its present form, is one of extraordinary difficulty. It is clear 
from the above interpretation how great was the influence of the 
Hebrew language on the form of Noah's blessing, and of course 
the Hebrew language was just as little spoken by the patriarchs 
as by Adam in Paradise. In its contents also the oracle is con- 
ditioned by the revelation given to the people of Israel after 
Moses. Compare the emphatic use of the name Jahveh and the 
description of Canaan as cursed by the progenitor. On the 
other hand, it is out of harmony both with the spirit of antiquity 
and in particular with the moral earnestness of the Biblical 
authors, to invent such oracles of set purpose and publish them 
as words of an ancestor. Rather in this old Hebrew oracle we 
have to deal with a primitive tradition, the kernel of which reaches 
back beyond the Hebrew nationality, but which received its 
present form from the spirit of the Israelitish theocracy (as in 
the account of Creation). The greatness of its contents makes 
it certain that it was a prophetically deep and far-seeing seer 
who put down Noah's word as the Alpha of the world's history. 
Such a saying cannot be explained as a limited reflection of the 
view of a particular time, or as the product of certain political 
relations and moods (note D). 

NOTE A. $53, properly lowland, applies to the low tract on 
the Phoenician coast, and therefore quite properly denotes the 
Phoenicians, and next the Canaanites, who meanwhile had pene- 
trated into Palestine. That this people was of Hamitic descent 
the Israelites had no doubt, despite the Shemitic language so called 
which it spoke. Cf. Kautzsch in Riehm's Handworterbuch, art. 
" Phonizien." On the moral depravity of this people, see Miinter, 
Religion der Carthager, p. 150 ff. ; on their licentious worship, 
Scholz, ut ante. 

NOTE B. We have no verb corresponding to 7p3 under both its 
aspects, the best still is " bless." It has God for its object in the 
sense of praising as well as man in the sense of blessing, i.e. 
invoking God's good- will on one, conveying God's blessing. Only 
in the latter sense does Heb. vii. 7 hold good, that the less is 


*> / 

always blessed of the greater. Cf. the Arabic l^,, properly the 

cross (^), to bend, hence to pray ; moreover, of God it is said : to 
lend graciously over ( J^c) one, to bless him. Cf. Borhdn ed-din. 


Enchirid. Stud. ed. Caspar, p. f , line 2 ff. of the Commentary. 

NOTE C. From nna (root ns, to be open), the hiphil means here : 
to make wide, give wide scope (not allure, persuade, like the piel 
with accusative, after which Calvin in the present passage accepts 
the meaning allicere, blande reducere ; with gentle voice God will 
allure Japhet to reunion with Shem, as has been done by the 
gospel). Cf. b 3'CHn, Gen. xxvi. 22; Ps. iv. 1. Because breadth 
of room to extend in was the first condition of prosperity in 
nomadic life, designations of happiness generally have been formed 
from this idea of space ; cf. if^n. Yet it would not be in place in 
the present passage to generalize the meaning of nnan into that of 
making happy (Tuch, Hengstenberg). 

NOTE D. That an oracle so natural in character is not to be 
regarded as a mere expression of national hate and a justification 
of that hate (Tuch, p. 147), is self-evident. Of the aberrations 
into which the so-called scientific interpretation falls, which 
labours to find the roots of all prophetic vision and speech in 
historical occasions, a shocking example is given in the present 
passage, alas ! by G. Baur (p. 176 ff.), who sees in Noah's 
blessing a political and indeed anti-Isaianic manifesto, written in 
favour of an alliance with the Assyrians, who are supposed to figure 
as Japhet ! (Ewald here led the way in error, Geschichte Isr. iii. 
643.) Such attempts at least show how hard it is to point out 
pragmatic motives for these oracles in the political history of 
the age. According to our interpretation of ver. 27, shared by 
most exegetes of critical skill, a noteworthy element is, that 
Japhet's fame in the world was far below that of Shem and Ham 
during the whole history of ancient Israel, and at all events 
first appeared on the horizon of the Jewish nation in unimagined 
greatness long after the composition of these sayings ; and, indeed, 
in earlier days little enough indication could be seen of any 
subjugation of Ham, specifically of Canaan, by Japhet. 

14. The Promises to the Fathers of the Covenant-nation 
(Abraham, Isaac, Jacob). 

The promise given to Shem of a closer relation into which 
God will enter with him is further specialized l to the effect that 

1 Cf. in Isa. xxix. 22 the redemption and severance of Abraham from heathenism. 


Abraham and his posterity specifically, more precisely the seed 
of Isaac, and still more definitely the seed of Jacob, will stand in 
this covenant, i.e. in distinctive relation to God. This is made 
known to the forefathers of Israel themselves by divine utterances. 
Whereas God's talking with men is presupposed in primitive 
days more generally, in the patriarchal period it has already 
become exceptional. The pious patriarchs themselves, although 
only in special solemn moments of their life, are deemed worthy 
of divine communications, and their spiritual greatness consists 
in their trusting this voice of God. Take away from an 
Abraham this believing trust in God's promise, which is the 
sinew of all his acts, and his spiritual significance is gone. The 
different authorities, distinguishable in the narrative respecting 
Abraham, agree in this, that he received from God special 
assurances respecting the future of his posterity. 

The form of these revelations is subordinate. It is simply 
said : the Lord spake to Abraham, or : He appeared to Abraham 
and spake. Nevertheless the different authorities testify that 
the communicating of the promise was accompanied by a 
visible appearance of the holy God. 1 Other secondary circum- 
stances are, that the revelation often takes place by night, 2 once 
also the covenant - promise is given in a dream, 3 and once 
(xxv. 22 f.) an oracle in reference to nations is given on an 
inquiring of the Lord, while it is not said in what way the 
answer was given. Of subordinate interest also is the more pre- 
cise designation, met with occasionally, of the revealing Deity as 
m,T ytbo or DTiiJK 1JW&D, Angel of the Lord. 4 For this difference 
is more one of form. God Himself speaks in and through the 
angel, so that the two subjects are constantly interchangeable 
the subject who is the proper author of the revelation, and the 
one that is only its representative medium. See xvi. 7-13, 
where Hagar is sure she saw God Himself in the angel 

1 Cf. xii. 7, xv. 17, xvii. 1, xxvi. 2, 4. 

2 The still night is specially favourable to the reception of divine revelation ; 
cf. Job iv. 13, xxxiii. 15 ; Zech. i. 8. 

3 Gen. xxviii. 12 ff. See p. 15. The dream as a form of revelation is usually 
regarded as a characteristic of the second Elohistic authority ; but Gen. xxviii. is 
probably Yahvistic, at least the splitting up of the narrative is in the highest 
degree arbitrary. 

4 So in the Yahvistic authority, and the Elohistic closely allied to it ; cf. xvi. 7, 
13, xviii. 1 ff., xxi. 17, xxii. 11, 14, 15. 


(cf. xxi. 1 7) ; just so the interchangeable relation between God 
and the three men, xviii. 1 ff. ; further, xxii. 11, 14, 15, and 
xlviii. 1C, where Jacob calls an angel the Saviour of his life. 
This interchangeable relation has its ground in the old conception 
of angels, according to which they only come into view as 
organs through whom God manifests Himself. Where God 
reveals Himself in time and space, this revelation may always be 
described as that of an angel (cf. too Gal. iii. 19). And it is 
noteworthy that the angel is first mentioned in the divine 
appearance to Hagar, not as if this favourite instrument of God 
appeared now in consequence of the making of the covenant, 
in which, however, Hagar had no part, but just here the 
mediateness of God's manifestation forced itself on the reflection. 
No doubt distinctions are made in certain narratives between 
one order of angels and another (Ex. xxxiii. 15 ; Isa. Ixiii. 9), 
but not more than between the arm and the face of 
the Lord. The error of the opinion so much in favour in 
the Church, that among the angels one towers as an uncreated 
divine being above the other created ones, and that where 
"n ixta stands, and the interchange of persons with God occurs, 
the covenant-angel is always meant, lies in this, that the 
individual angel is contemplated alongside or under God as an 
independent hypostasis in the style of a much later age ; 
whereas for the Biblical books, especially of the earliest age, 
he comes into view simply in his working. The particular 
work or revelation of God shows a particular angel, who is 
its medium, and who in this special form and act sets forth God 

Let us now consider the contents of the divine promises to the 

The first one that meets us is that given to Abraham 
(xii. 13, 7), accompanying the divine summons to depart from 
his native land : 

" And Jahveh spake to Abrarn : Remove from thy land and 
acquaintance and father's house to a land, which I will show 
thee. Then will I make thee a great nation and bless thee 
and magnify thy name, and thou shalt be a blessing, and I 
will bless those who bless thee, and whoever utters imprecation 
on thee, him will I curse. And through thee all kindreds on the 
face of the earth shall be blessed." 


The two main points, recurring uniformly in all the autho- 
rities, are land and people. The whole patriarchal history looks 
forward to the holy people in the Promised Land, a prospect already 
made known to the pious fathers themselves by divine illumina- 
tion. The present saying to Abraham also looks in that direction, 
although he was the progenitor of a wider group of tribes. His 
intimate relation to God was transmitted in its blessed signifi- 
cance to a particular nation. First of all (vers. 2, 3) the divine 
blessing is attached to Abraham's person, of whom it is said 
expressly nana iT|iTi which by no means signifies merely 
that he himself will be blessed (Hitzig), or that his name will be 
a formula of blessing, but extols him as the medium and source 
of the divine blessing. 1 How Abraham himself, in virtue of his 
special relation to God, was a mediator of blessing to those about 
him, is shown in Gen. xx. 7 ; that his people in the same way 
were to convey the divine blessing, the dispensation of God's grace 
to the whole world, see in Isa. xix. 24; Zech. viii. 13. In the 
present passage the import of the brief saying is expounded in 
ver. 3, according to which God's relation to men depends on their 
attitude to Abraham (cf. xx. 7), and the Lord will deal well with 
those who wish well to him and do homage to the divine grace 
revealing itself in him ; and, on the other hand, will make him 
feel His displeasure who despises and scorns one whom God has 
blessed. The singular number here is significant. It can only be 
single hardened sinners who so misunderstand one who is a 
source of blessing to all about him, as to contemn and hate him, 
and in him his God. The world, as a whole, will not withhold 
homage, and will therefore enjoy the benefit of this source of 
blessing. The latter is implied in the final words, which puts 
the crown on the promise, nD"isn nins^D ^>b ^a "nai. But 
whether the subjective act of homage or the objective act of 
divine blessing lies in the niphal, exegetes are not agreed. That 
one involves the other follows, however, from the preceding 
words. The niphal, as is well known, is primarily reflexive. In 
accordance with this its original signification, which, however, 
mostly vanished in the idiom of later days, earlier Jewish 
expositors, not without a polemical interest, opposed the ordinary 
Christian interpretation (shall be blessed in thee, LXX., N. T.) ; 
1 Cf. Prov. xi. 25 : n3~13 B>33 a soul that finds pleasure iu blessing, from which 

T T: :,:> 

accordingly streams of blessing flow. 


and, according to Gen. xlviii. 20, only found therein the sense : 
All nations shall bless themselves in thy name, i.e. wish them- 
- thy good fortune. 1 Thus the niphal is said to be 
synonymous with the hithpael occurring in like connection in 
xxii. 18, xxvL 4, 2 the seed of Abraham or of Isaac, however, 
standing as the means, whereas the niphal, again, is joined 
(xviii. 18) with Abraham himself, and (xxviii. 14) with Jacob 
along with his seed. We are certainly of opinion that the 
niphal here must have a meaning of its own, distinct from the 
hithpaeL 3 In distinction from the piel (xlviiL 20) and hithpael, 
it expresses more the objective experience of the divine blessing. 
Only, even where the hithpael is used, the significant position of 
the word at the end of the promise requires even there more 
than a mere ceremonial honour to be meant. The distinction 
therefore is not material The act of blessing is no mere 
formality, for which reason also the name of God or of a man 
used in it is of high importance. The former shows from whom 
the highest good is to be expected, the latter in whom it is to 
be found, and through whose mediation it may be attained. 
Therefore it is not something trifling that is affirmed, even in the 
reflexive sense. Xot merely will Abraham's good fortune be 
proverbial throughout the world, but all nations of the earth will 
see that in Abraham the highest good is to be found ; and thus 
he will be the priestly mediator of salvation between God and 
the world, since Abraham's blessing will bring to those farthest 
off the knowledge of the true God, and in praying for such 
blessing they will use the name of Abraham who prevailed with 
God. They would not do the latter (hithpael), unless the 
blessing and virtue of his person and name had been attested to 
them (niphal). 

This promise was ratified to Abraham in important moments 
of his life. Such a moment, according to chap, xiii., was the 
agreement with Lot, the progenitor of the Moabites and 
Ammonites. After the proof of self-denying love of peace given 
by Abraham, the Lord spoke to him (xiii. 14-17), and assured 
him that his earthly blessing should not be less on this account, 

1 So Raschi (in G. Baur, p. 209), afterwards Clericus, and now the majority (de 

. Gesenins, Anger, Stahelin, Hitzig, etc.). 
* Cf. Ps. IxxiL 17. 
3 Bo also Tuch, G. Baor, Hengstenberg, Keil, Kautzsch, etc. 


nay, would be measureless. Here also possession of land and a 
great posterity are the two chief points in the promise referring 
to the people of God ; save that here the extent of the land is 
more definitely indicated, and a posterity countless (like the dust 
of the earth) is predicted for him. 

Chap. xv. also, a section somewhat peculiar in the style of its 
narrative, moves around these two promises. The posterity of 
Abraham countless (like the stars of heaven) will appear, despite 
the fact that he has no proper heir ; and he will take possession 
of the land from the brook of Egypt (not the Nile, but the Wadi 
el Arisch) to the Euphrates (ver. 18 ft), although as yet he 
possesses not a foot's- breadth in it, and his posterity must first go 
into a strange land. 

The Elohistic version of the promise given to Abraham is 
found in xvii 1 f, where we at once (despite the nvr, ver. 1, 
which must spring from another hand) recognise the narrator, 
who in Ex. vi. 3 makes God say : And I appeared to Abraham, 
Isaac, and Jacob as ^ ?*<, in the character and with the 
appellation of the "Almighty God," but in my name mm I 
did not make myself known to them. By the former name He 
calls himself God in fact : He is God as feared (n^nfoe, vers, 
7, 15, 19, 23) by all nations as the strong One (*) ; but as 
the true, alone mighty One, He enters into a special, distinctive 
relation to Abraham. Here, also, we find the divinely-established 
covenant '"Hr, 1 as before in Xoah's case (also in the Elohist", 
ix. 8. But whereas there God's gracious arrangement extends 
to all mankind, here a portion of mankind is marked off, 
Abraham and his seed (.. his posterity). At the same time 
this posterity is regarded, not under a physical aspect, but as a 
spiritual whole, and the crude, physical element is to be further 
sifted and cleansed. Since the race chosen by God is to bear 
a character correspondingly distinctive, the rro has here a 
twofold aspect ; it consists first and chiefly in God's choosing 
for Himself this tribe, and making known the election by 
His acts of blessing ; on the other hand, it is an arrangement 
by which God determines how the tribe on its part is to give 
expression to this relation to its God. Accordingly the obligatk 
contained in the terms of the covenant consists in the ret 

i See p. 93. The irinaiit-faa, btmem, is not merely Elofcntie, tat 

most decidedly in a Yahvistic authority, Gen. XT. 


of circumcision (ver. 9 ff.), the symbol of the purifying of man's 
nature from its innate impurity. 1 

The blessings promised to Abraham in this covenant-act are 
substantially the same as in the passages of the other narrators 
already discussed. They are, first of all, temporal, earthly blessings, 
in appearance not essentially different from those enjoyed by 
other nations. But the peculiarity from the first is this, that 
Israel owes these blessings to its special relation to the God who 
made the world. As the goal of God's gracious purpose appears 
chiefly (as before) the multiplication of Abraham (of which this 
name itself, a modification of Abram, is a reminder, ver. 5) : 
" And I will make thee very fruitful and multiply thee into 
nations, and kings shall proceed from thee." Here is not merely 
the promise of a countless host of descendants (as before), but 
a number of nationalities and kings is distinguished therein. If 
this language suggests the thought of all the Arab nations in 
the line of Keturah (xxv. 1 ff.) and Ishmael, whose progenitor 
Abraham is, as well as of the Edomites, who according to 
xxxvi. 31 had kings even before the Israelites, in ver. 16 the 
horizon in the case of Sarah, to whom (her name also being 
modified) the like is promised, is narrower. This covenant 
promise is specialized to the effect that the sou of Sarah 
represents the promised seed, xvii. 19, 21. And in xxxv. 11, 
in plain allusion to the present chapter, it is said to Jacob : 
"I am El Shaddai, be fruitful and multiply, a nation and a 
community of nationalities (Q^3 <>nj?) shall proceed from thee 
and kings from thy loins." This passage shows, that even in 
the present chapter the promise refers to the Israelitish complex 
of nations and its kings ; and also in xvii. 7, 8, which passes on 
to the second part of the promise, viz. the possession of the land 
of Canaan, there can be no doubt on this point. In xvii. 7 the 
inner nature of this covenant is revealed. The Almighty God 
will be specifically the Deity of this nation (cf. ver. 8 ff.). He 
puts Himself in a closer mutual relation to it. Of this the land, 
which He gives it for a possession, is an outward sign ; a second, 
by which Israel will consecrate itself as God's elect to His service, 
is the symbol of circumcision, performed on the flesh of all male 
members of the nation. 

This ordinance, like the whole act of the covenant, is expressly 
1 Herzog's Real-Encyklopiidie, " Hcschneidung. " 


declared to be eternal (ohy Jinn). Certainly it would not 
satisfy the emphasis of the divine saying to regard D^iy l here 
simply as a hyperbolical designation of a time of indefinite 
length. D^iy in prophetic speech signifies "long time," as 
little as D<pn nnnts " following time," instead of " final time." 
Rather it simply negatives the cessation of the covenant. Such 
cessation is absent from the speaker's as well as the hearer's 
thought. In the case of a promise or precept the word expresses 
the divine absoluteness, which pledges itself that its will is 
no mere momentary one. But of course this will, though not 
influenced by time, is influenced by the free conduct of man. 
According to the attitude of the people, the divine covenant is 
turned into blessing or cursing; it will unfold in unimagined 
fulness and more pregnant meaning. Unfaithful Israel, just 
because the covenant remains stedfast, will lose its land ; 
faithful Israel will know its God more perfectly, and lay aside 
its natural impurity more completely than was done in circum- 
cision. We see here that we ought not mechanically to transfer 
the initial form of the promise to a quite different stage of the 
divine economy, and without regard to the specific value of a 
promise to adhere to a particular chronology. Have we a right, 
without more ado, to infer from the present passage the future 
possession of the outward Canaan by Israel, while rejecting the 
perpetual observance of outward circumcision ? 

Compare, further, xviii. 1 8 (Yahvistic) : " Since Abraham 
will certainly become a great and strong nation, and in him 
all nations of the earth will be blessed " (niph.). 

xxii. 1 61 8 : " By myself have I sworn, said the Lord : 
Because thou hast done this thing and hast not spared thy 
son, thine own (son), verily I will bless thee and multiply 
thy seed abundantly as the stars of heaven, and like the 
sand that is on the sea-shore, and thy seed shall occupy 
the gate of its foes. And in thy seed all nations of the 
earth shall bless themselves, because thou didst listen to my 

Here also, where the re warding of Abraham's believing obedience 

is in question, a posterity countless (like the stars and sand) 

stands in the first line, and to this its victorious, awe-inspiring 

position is added. Finally, again, the highest reward of his 

3 Cf. p. 95, Synonyma der Zeit und Eivigkeit, p. 74. 


trustful surrender to God is, that all nations of the earth will 
wish themselves the highest good in the name of his posterity. 
jn.T is here also a single, abstract idea, but not a personal one. 
That is, it is not expressly said that one particular individual 
among Abraham's descendants will be the channel of blessing to 
all nations. But if a son of man should discharge this highest 
function, in accordance with the promise he must be a descendant 
of Abraham. 

In xxvi. 3-6 the entire blessing promised to Abraham is 
transferred to Isaac, and in xxviii. 13 f. is promised in a dream 
at Bethel to Jacob. Cf. also xlvi. 1-4, and especially the 
Elohistic revelation of xxxv. 9 ff. 

Whilst the undivided stream of covenant - blessing is thus 
conducted to Jacob, in whose house it begins to attain its 
national breadth, the subordinate lines are plainly excluded. 
Much, indeed, of the blessing bestowed on Abraham passes over 
to them ; but in the covenant proper, and therefore in the cove- 
nant land and people, they have no share. Thus in chap, xiii., Lot, 
the progenitor of Moab and Ammon, voluntarily separates from 
Abraham, to whom he gladly surrenders the rest of Canaan, choos- 
ing the rich Jordan valley. Abraham's son by Hagar, Ishmael, is 
excluded, not without an important future being assured to him, 
certainly of a mere earthly, profane kind, xvi. 10 ff. He too 
is assigned a countless posterity ; but instead of being a blessing 
to all, he is the adversary of all, and of the land of promise he 
will have as little as he will be an heir of the divine covenant, 
xvii. 18 ff., xxi. 12. The real spiritual seed of Abraham, 
according to God's plan, is perpetuated in Isaac. 1 Isaac has two 
apparently equal sons ; although very different individually, they 
are even twin-brothers. But here it was to be seen how it is 
God's free choice, following spiritual affinity, not physical descent, 
that qualifies for the inheritance. As divine appointment from 
the beginning (cf. xxv. 22 f., the struggle in the womb and the 
word of the Lord), and human adjustments in keeping with the 
character of the tribal representatives concerned (cf. xxv. 29 ff., 
the sale of the birthright-privilege), led to this result, so at last the 
patriarch, without his own knowledge and will, uttered his decisive 
oracle, to the effect that to the younger belonged the Promised 

Cf. xxi. 12: JHT ^ K-lj! 

' * 


Land with all its treasures, whereas to the older w r as left a mere 
shadow of blessing, in reality no blessing. To the former was 
also given the rightful dominion, to the latter only the possibility 
of freeing himself by rude force from the yoke of his heaven- 
favoured brother, chap, xxvii. 

Since we have to do here, not with a new divine institution, 
but merely with the designation of the true heir to the promises 
of grace, Jacob is first of all designated by his father's blessing 
(the testament l of Isaac) as the depositary of the covenant-grace 
and the representative of the covenant-people. This oracle of 
blessing is diverted by the cunning mother to her favourite, not 
without deception of the blind father. Thinking that he has Esau 
before him, whose savoury food stimulates him (as outward things 
often do, e.g. the sound of a name) to prophetic utterance, he 
exclaims : 

" Behold, the perfume of my son is as the perfume of the 
field, which Yahveh blessed ! God give thee of the dew of 
heaven and of the fatness of the earth, and fulness of wheat 
and wine ! Let nations serve thee and peoples fall down 
before thee ! Be a commander to thy brethren, and let the 
sons of thy mother do homage to thee ! Cursed be they 
who curse thee, and blessed they who bless thee ! " (xxvii. 

As the seer's gaze in such oracles rises prophetically above the 
ordinary horizon, so his language is loftier than usual. 2 The sus- 
tained harmony, rising in animation up to the close and culminating 
in the three pairs of clauses (ver. 29), corresponds to the import 
of the train of thought which ascends from vivid description 
of natural blessings to more and more extraordinary glory and 
distinction. Hence, too, the blessing on Esau, in import so much 
below this elevation, is far from exhibiting such inspiration of 
form. The oracle treats substantially of the heirlooms already 
familiar to us from xii. 2 ff. The land extolled in the present 

1 See p. 78. 

2 Cf. ver. 27, the poetical nsO for nan ( cf - ver - 39 )> perhaps also for the sake of 
the rhythm with fpl ; further pitfn <I 319B' (pinguedines terrse), only found aguin 
in ver. 39, perhaps chosen in this passage also because of the rhythm with D"G>$n ; 
further, nin for iTTI, and -|i33 only here and ver. 37. "Whoever objects that it is 
unusual to poetize in old age and in presence of death is to be pitied, as knowing 
neither prophecy nor true poetry. 



passage is undoubtedly Canaan (in opposition to the barren land 
of the Edoinites), which Isaac received from Abraham, although 
only in ideal possession. That Jacob will become a great nation 
is not actually said, but is as self-evident as that the description 
of Esau (ver. 40) applies to the nation springing from him. 
Only as a nation can he have a land richly blessed for his own, 
and occupy among the nations a position inspiring fear and 
respect. The lordship belonging to the covenant nation is 
emphasized more strongly here than previously (cf. xxii. 17). 
Although the indefinite D^x^i D'Dl? is not expressly equivalent 
to 'T?"!^? rrinsBT? <>3, still it makes Israel lord over the nations 
surrounding it, even over those of kindred descent (O^). 
And the concluding sentence shows that the attitude of the 
nations to Israel will determine God's friendly or hostile attitude 
to them. What held good of the patriarchs personally (cf. xxvi. 
26 ff.), that God would bless their friends and chastise their foes, 
so that every one courted their favour, was to be extended 
to the nations who favoured Israel for the sake of its God. 
Here is seen the objective side expressed in ^~]^, and assumed 
in the hithpael. Respecting the way in which Israel will rule 
the nations, this glance into its spiritual power and the homage 
to be done it on that account, gives us at least some intimation. 

By this oracle, the grey, blind father has plainly disposed of 
the entire blessing, one and indivisible, given to Abraham and 
devolving on himself as its heir by God's appointment. Because 
inspired by a higher spiritual power, such a blessing once uttered 
is no longer in the personal power of man to revoke. It is 
unalterable and irrevocable. This Isaac declares in ver. 33, 
after he perceives to his terror that a higher will has here 
crossed his own, and used him as an instrument in an arrange- 
ment not according to his own mind. Gladly as he would have 
done it, he can bequeath to his favourite Esau nothing more of 
the sacred heritage already disposed of. What he further gives 
Esau on his importunate urgency, is a mere shadow of the 
blessing already uttered, unworthy in comparison to be called a 
blessing : 

" Behold, without l fatness of the earth shall be thy dwelling- 
place, and without dew of heaven from above, and by favour 

1 jo here privative, not partitive. 


of l thy sword thou shalt live and serve thy brother. And 
it shall come to pass : as thou roamest there, thou shalt break 
his yoke from thy neck." 

Even the land which Esau inhabits will form a sad contrast to 
Jacob's blooming fields. In point of fact, the mountain-range of 
the Edomites is extraordinarily bare and barren. If, then, he is 
to lack the abundance of the gifts of heaven and earth, which 
are God's gifts, he still retains his sword with which to make 
himself a living. Just so he can only win his independence 
by force ; for his normal condition, fixed by God and reason, will 
be one of subjection to his brother, although, considering his 
native wildness and irrepressible passion for independence, it 
may be foreseen that he will break loose from the yoke of one 
who is his superior in spiritual dignity. What he wins, there- 
fore, he will gain, not by divine right, but by right of might, in 
opposition to God's legal ordination and expressed will. To this 
resistance God will allow scope to a certain degree, the conse- 
quence of which to Israel will be, that God's people will only be 
able to maintain its position with trouble and hard conflict. To 
this extent a shadow rests on Jacob's blessing, and as matter of 
fact throughout the whole of the ancient history of Israel, Edom 
embittered the existence of its brother-nation. 

15. Tlie Leading Tribe of Judah (Jacob's Blessi-ng, Gen. xlix.). 

Jacob also makes his testament at the end of his life. He, 
too, has Canaan to bestow. But in doing this, he does not hand 
over the land to one individual in unshared possession, while the 
others, like Ishmael and Esau, go empty away ; but Jacob sees 
in spirit all his twelve sons settled in the land of promise, so 
familiar to him. We learn from this that the promise is not 
for the present more precisely defined, but all Jacob-Israel is to 
share in it. But each one of the twelve sons has a peculiar 
temperament, from which their father starts in foretelling what 
position they will take as members of the whole. 

Gen. xlix. 1 : " And Jacob called his sons and spake : Gather 
yourselves together, and I will declare to you what will befall 


1 On thy sword i.e. putting it down as a basis, supported on it. 

2 Respecting this definition of time, see p. 33. 


The dying patriarch does not refer his sons indefinitely to 
" after days " (Herder), but to " the end of the days," i.e. to the 
completion of the stage of development now proceeding. For 
Jacob the horizon, bounding his field of vision, lies where, accord- 
ing to the promise given him, his posterity has grown into 
tribes and taken up its abode in the Promised Land ; for at this 
point the idea of the kingdom of God has reached its provisional 
realization, which again contains germs that ensure a higher 
development. Moreover, Jacob's blessing contains in the oracle 
respecting Judah a significant blossom that will further unfold 

On this point a distinction of rank is to be observed among 
the sons. One must have the primacy, but which one ? Accord- 
ing to Gen. xlviii., Joseph, the offspring of the beloved Rachel, 
the saviour of Jacob's whole family, was distinguished by the 
patriarch with a special blessing, 1 to the effect that his two sons 
were to be on a level with the sons of Jacob in the division of the 
land. The two grandsons are thus in a sense adopted by Jacob, 
while Joseph is honoured by a double share in the inheritance. 
On this account it is said in 1 Chron. v. 1, the right of first-born 
(rnb 3) passed to Joseph's sons. This can only refer to the 
double inheritance, for the chronicler adds, Judah became TM 
among his brethren, received the supremacy among them. But 
the supremacy was a chief part of the rnb? ; here, on the con- 
trary, is meant thereby (as perhaps also in Gen. xxvii. 36) merely 
the larger (i.e. double) possession. 

Gen, xlix. shows how Judah attained the leadership, which he 
possesses even in preference to Joseph, who certainly is called 
(ver. 26) the most noble p\T3) among his brethren. In age, 
indeed, Judah is only fourth. But the three preceding him were 
declared to have lost the birthright by unpardonable trans- 
gressions, of which their father must perforce remind them even 
on his deathbed Reuben on account of his dishonouring his 
father's couch (xxxv. 22), Simeon and Levi on account of their 
outrageous, cunning revenge on the Sichemites (xxxiv. 13 ff.). 
Instead of the expected special blessing, the eldest received severe 
rebuke. Jacob does not expressly curse them, but he solemnly 

1 xlviii. 14, 17 shows what outward gesture was usual in such patriarchal benedic- 
ions : Imposition of hands expressive of transference, which confirms what was said 
of the meaning of that act. 


disavows their thoughts and ways. And now the stream of 
benediction gushes without check on Judah, who was not indeed 
without stain (cf. Gen. xxxviii.), but who had shown a noble, 
energetic character towards his father and brethren (e.g. in the 
history of Joseph), and whose moral energy became the abiding 
excellence of this tribe. 

Israel has no reason for withholding the birthright from 
Judah. As he mentions his name, its high significance strikes 
him : He is not called " Praise " l in vain, his brethren shall 
praise him, as once his mother praised the Lord when she bore 
him (xxix. 35) : 

xlix. 8-12 : "Judah, verily thee thy brethren shall praise, 

verily thy hand (shall be) on the neck of thy foes, before 
9 thee thy father's sons fall down ! A lion's cub is Judah ; 

from ravening, my son, thou hast ascended : he crouched, lay 

down like a lion, and like the lioness : who can arouse him ? 
10 The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor the general's 

staff from between his feet, until he come into his own, and 
1 1 nations are subject to him, who binds his foal to the vine- 

stem, and to the choice vine his ass's colt. He washed his 
12 garments in wine and his apparel in grape-juice, his eyes 

dark with wine, and his teeth white with milk." 
The meaning of the whole oracle is : Thanks to its prowess in 
offence and defence, Judah will be the real princely tribe, able to 
maintain its supremacy over its brethren as well as superiority 
over its foes. Thanks to the terror of its valour, it will enjoy 
undisturbed a land rich in milk and wine. 

Compared with xxvii. 29, ver. 8 shows that Jacob's supremacy 
is transmitted to Judah. Among the kindred tribes it is the 
leader, whose moral worth and physical superiority they willingly 
acknowledge. Prepared for by ver. 8&, in ver. 9 the regal lion 
appears as Judah's emblem. After hunting his prey in the 
plains, this lion has ascended 2 to his lofty dwelling (alluding to 
the lofty situation of Judah's territory). There he now settles 
down comfortably ; he knows, however, that no one will venture 
to disturb him in his rest or dispute his spoil with him. Ver. 1 

a name formed from the impf. hoph. ^ also is similar in sound. The 
expression is taken from a beast of prey, which strikes its claws into the neck of the 
fleeing prey. 

2 JV^y> n t : thou hast grown up (Luther). 


speaks again of Jndah's princely function. BSK', sceptre, and 
Pi?.'" 1 *?, are synonymous ; the latter here is not personal : commander 
or lawgiver (Hengstenberg), but according to Num. xxi. 18, com- 
mander's staff, general's baton, which insignia on sitting down are 
put between the feet. 1 

Leaving aside for a time the disputable words, ver. lOc and 
10r?, we cannot doubt that vers. 11 and 12 apply to Judah, and 
depict the rich abundance of his land, which he will enjoy as the 
prize of victory. The image of Judah, given in antique, poetic 
speech, 2 is in the highest degree picturesque. We see him bind- 
ing his beast to the vine, which is the blessing of his land. The 
choice red sap flows for him in such abundance, that he has 
washed his garments in it, which therefore show the royal 
purple. 3 Nay, we only need look at him to see the profuse 
abundance yielded by his land. The dark fire, peculiar to wine, 
streams from his eyes, 4 the dazzling white of milk from his teeth ; 
so that we see at once with what his land overflows. Wine and 
milk are so much the special pride and wealth of Judah's 
territory, otherwise not very fertile, that this characteristic is 
eminently in place, 5 and no reference of these words to Judah's 
Egyptian relations 6 is to be thought of. Thus the verses give 
the impression that Judah will secure rich spoil in lion-like con- 
flict, in order then to enjoy its full possession in unbroken peace. 
In this connection, the clause nVc' Niapa ty cannot indicate the 
termination of Judah's influential position, but seems to denote 
the transition from the conflict for that position to its undisputed 
possession. But the reading and meaning of the word r6'B> are 

1 To interpret with the ancients : "a ruler from thy loins," would be awkward. 
D^3T T3O XTT denotes, indeed, in prosaic speech (Deut. xxviii. 57) the issuing from 
the mother's womb (cf. Iliad, xix. 110) ; but this local definition nowhere refers to 
paternal begetting. The Targum has &OSD f r ppflD : the chancellor sitting at the 

king's feet. 

2 Cf. the forms ^DN, "J2, Gesenius, Oramm. 88, 3a ; F. W. M. Philippi, Wesen 
nnd Ursprung des Status Constr. p. 11, 97, 101 ; further, jrvy and nhlD. 
Gesenins, Gramm. 91, n. 2 ;*p^>, 93, 2. 1. 

3 Cf. Isa. Ixiii. 2 : blood-red as the colour of wine. 

4 "Wan, dark (fr ni ^On, to be dark) in the above sense, jo is not to be taken 

comparatively in either instance, but states the cause from which his blooming 
appearance arises. 

6 v. Orelli, DurcKs hell'iye. Land, 2nd ed. p. 84 f. 

So Diestel, Segen Jacob's, p. 56. 


questionable. As it stands, it seems most natural to take the 
word as the name of a place, as everywhere else, 1 and to translate : 
until he comes to Shiloh? The " coining to Shiloh " would then 
denote the end of the journeying and conquest, during which 
Judah had held the leadership. Now in point of fact it is said 
in Josh, xviii. 1 : " And the whole congregation of the children 
of Israel assembled together at Shiloh, and set up the tabernacle 
there ; and the land was subdued before them." According to 
Delitzsch, the passage forms " a boundary-line between two periods 
in Israel's history." At that time, indeed, the conflict was not yet 
fought out, and Judah's championship was still only to begin in 
the true sense (Judg. i. 1). But the period of the great march in 
common was in fact concluded. 

We confess, however, that this interpretation little contents 
us. Apart from the fact that, although the tribe of Judah led 
the van in conflict during the desert-march (Num. ii.), the 
sceptre and staff of command were quite wanting to it, the 
tribe had no special relation to Shiloh ; it did not there bind 
its foal to the vine ; nor did it there receive any homage, 
either from the other tribes or from foreign peoples. The 
mention of this place therefore remains in any case enigmatical. 
But although one might accept under pressure the explanation 
given by Delitzsch, namely, that the aged Jacob in spirit saw 
Shiloh, known to him by name, as the resting-place of his people ; 
on the other hand, from the " critical " point of view which 
makes these oracles later compositions formed in the time of the 
Judges or Kings out of history, 3 no reason is conceivable why 
the arrival at Shiloh should be regarded as the terminus ad quern 
of Judah's leadership ! This long-past epoch could in no way 
be regarded as the satisfying conclusion " at the end of the days." 

The embarrassment of the critics next led to a desperate " stroke 
of perplexity," as Diestel rightly calls it, first made by Hitzig, 4 
and confidently repeated by Bleek, Tuch, Maurer, G. Baur, etc. 
^3 *TJ? is said here to mean, not " until," but " as long as " they 
come to Shiloh, which, spoken at a time when men resorted to 

1 SMloh is the central place, where under Joshua the tabernacle was set up. 

2 Ibn Ezra, Teller, Herder, Roseumiiller, Eichliorn, Tuch, Ewald, Rb'diger, 
Delitzsch, Diestel, et al. 

3 See p. 81. 

4 Die Psalmen, 1836, ii. p. 2, note; BibUsclie T/teologie, 153. 


God's tabernacle there, is said to signify : for ever ! That *W 
properly denotes " continuance of something," and hence may 
on occasion correspond to our " as long as," l must be conceded. 
'a ny certainly is never so found, and "^ ny (SoL Song i. 12) 
cannot be quoted for the above interpretation. That parallel 
would rather require the interpretation : " as long as he shall 
be on the point of coming to Shiloh " (and therefore found on 
the way thither), which would give substantially the usual sense, 
but not : " as long as one usually comes thither." Moreover, 
that the latter was a proverbial phrase for perpetual duration, is 
preposterous. The tabernacle stood far too short a time in 
Shiloh to allow such an idiom to arise ; in the thoughts of the 
Israelites its stay there was always something provisional ; else 
the abode of the sanctuary would not have been changed without 

But an important circumstance is that the form ri^K' is rela- 
tively recent, and in any case rbw stood previously. It is true 
the name Shiloh was very frequently written defectively, but the 
word was early read differently. LXX., Aq., Symm., Pesch., Onk., 
Saady., read rf?'^=^=\? "i^ which the majority took personally : 
He to whom it belongs, namely, the sceptre, the rule. Here 
Jews as well as Christians thought of the Messiah. Nay, to 
all appearance even Ezekiel took the rb& personally, and, indeed, 
of the Messiah. In xxi. 32, where the words BBfen tHefc so"iy 
recall the phrase in question, he is referring to the time of 
redemption. 2 

Linguistically this translation is possible, 3 although very preg- 
nant ; theologically, not impossible. Let it not be said that such 
a sudden emergence of a future holder of national rule from 
the tribe of Judah goes beyond the limits of prophecy. These 
limits are not to be fixed on rationalistic principles. For the 
rest, the rationalizing view always has the resource of making 
the saying to have been spoken after David, to whom it would 
refer in the first case. 4 Unfavourable, on the other hand, to such 

1 Cf. in Latin donee erisfelix, etc. 

1 Cf. Smend, Commentar zu Ezech. p. 1 47. 

3 -{? for "IK'K is found in all periods of Hebrew literature, nor can it be main- 
tained that it occurs merely in sections belonging to North Palestine. Cf. Judg. 
v. 7 ; Sol. Song i. 7 ; and also Gen. vi. 3 ; Job xix. 29. 

4 So Wellhauseu, Geschichte, i. 375. He (and after him Stade, Gesch. i. 160) 


an intrusion of a ruler into the general tribal blessing, is the 
fact that his relation to the tribe would not be indicated. True, 
the whole style of the oracle does not suggest that Judah's 
greatness is to come to an end with the coming of a greater 
ruler, but the "o *iy points to the culmination and full realization 
of Judah's dignity as ruler. But one would then expect some 
such words as fe' wsp s^. '3 *W. Add to this, that the following 
words (ver. 11), depicting Judah's peaceful prosperity, only follow 
naturally, provided he is the subject in what precedes and 'nn^ Wf 
applies to him. 

These objections apply also, in all their weight, to every 
interpretation that would stamp the word n^B> in any other way 
as a name of the Messiah. Not to speak of the rendering qui 
mittendus est (Jerome), which takes np5J> as the root, r6'B>, derived 
from HA^, i s said as a proper name to signify rest-bringer, rich, in 
peace (Hengstenberg). At all events this is better than to take 
the word with the same derivation appellatively : until rest 
comes; or until he comes to rest (Kurtz, Hofrnann) which 
indeed would be very suitable to the context, but is forbidden by 
the fact that no formations of appellative nouns of this kind 
from verbs n"i> or i"j? fay) occur. On the other hand, the local 
name ni^e> (place of rest), shortened from Jv 11 ^, 1 rfe6tf from P&V, 
are found. As to form, therefore, it might in the present passage 
be a nomen proprium of a prince in a symbolic sense ; but the 
context, as remarked before, is against this. Ver. 11 was only 
interpreted of the Messiah by means of such artificial allegorizing 
as robbed the forceful description of its meaning. 2 

The context on one hand, the oldest authorities in respect of 
the reading 3 on the other, conduct us to our translation. n>^ 
was the reading handed down from antiquity, and the LXX. 
render this neutrally : eco? av e\dy ra aTTOKeifj.eva aurw. 4 
Instead of this abstract neuter subject we take the personal 

would expunge \y), thus spoiling the entire beautiful rhythm of the oracle. Also 

his critical attack on ver. 10 is no permissible means of escape from an exegetical 
difficulty awaiting investigation. 

1 Cf. Stade, Hebr, Gramm. i. p. 177. 

2 Clemens Alexandrinus applied the vine to the Logos, the ass to the nation. 
The washing of the garment in the blood of the grape required a reference to the 
suffering of Christ. 3 Ezekiel, LXX. 

4 According to a weakly attested reading, u affxu-ai, like the other versions 
in a personal sense. 


subject predominating everywhere here, and render : until lie 
come into that which belongs to him, therefore into his own, his 
possession described in the sequel. Cf. especially the blessing 
of Moses on Judah, Dent, xxxiii. 7 : ws'an iV"?xl. As champion 
of the other tribes, he will display untiring energy until he has 
won his territory without curtailment ; and then not merely will 
the tribes of Israel do homage to him, but other nations also 
will bow to his rule. For the B'E>y nrij^ i^i l cannot apply to the 
Israelites merely, who already always followed Judah's sceptre 
and staff, but must refer to the more general national rule, which 
according to xxvii. 29 is part of Jacob's heritage, and will be 
Judah's special portion. 

What then is the import of this oracle of blessing and prophecy 
respecting Judah ? At all events, according to the entire Jacob- 
blessing, the promise received by this progenitor passes in a 
certain degree to all his sons, who are to dwell together as 
brethren under the one God of their father (cf. xlix. 24, 25) in 
the Promised Land. But they need a leader, to whom they will 
willingly bow and the nations must perforce submit; and this 
leader, this head, will be Juddk. To him therefore the quint- 
essence of the blessing falls. As the land designed for him 
brings forth the noblest and richest fruit, the royal vine, so 
he himself is comparable in lofty energy to the royal lion, and as 
such he will bear the sceptre. Here plainly (whether H$ 
or "W be read) two stages are distinguished in Judah's future, 
a stage of conflict and one of peace. In the conflict for the 
attainment of his high destiny he will be the resistless conqueror, 
in peace the ruler unsurpassed in glory. That a definite person 
is announced here as the perfecter of this victorious conflict or 
as prince of peace, we have not been able to find in the course of 
our exposition. But should one individual as Israel's chief lead 
it to final victory and peace, he must belong, according to the 
present passage, to the tribe of Judah. 

History has brought the fulfilment. Not only was Judah in 
the van on the desert-march, not only was he the unwearied 

(still only stat. constr. ) with dagesh dirimens, from flp\ after the Arabic 


' io ^' obedience. Jerome 

as though it were connected with nip- 

J. <L J ' io ^' obedience. Jerome translates : " et ipse erit expectatio gentium, " 


champion of the rest in the conquest of the land, but in other 
ways also he showed his lion-like superiority. The age of 
greatest triumph and glory was ushered in by David, the 
Judean, when he assumed the sceptre and staff, which were no 
more to depart from his house, and went up in lion-like style to 
Jerusalem. Who is not reminded by the calmly couching lion 
of Solomon, under whom followed the most peaceful epoch of 
abundant prosperity as under a true ricw, Prince of Peace ? 
This was the climax of Israelitish national life. The ideal, 
however, was not reached then, and still less afterwards. On 
this account prophecy speaks again and again of a new 
setting up of the tabernacle of David (Amos ix. 11), of a future 
David, to whom it belongs to administer the law (Ezek. xxxiv. 23), 
who will subjugate all nations and bring in eternal peace. This 
king will enter Zion riding on the animal of peace (Zech. ix. 9); and 
under him men will enjoy the abundance of the land undisturbed, 
sitting under their own vine and fig-tree (Joel iv. 18; Micah 
iv. 4, etc.). Not the least significant echoes of the present oracle 
are found in Isaiah, the prophet from Judah, a circumstance 
to which Herder has alluded. 1 The final fulfilment of this 
patriarchal saying we can only find, with the apostolic Church 
(Rev. v. 5), in Christ, who has overcome as " the lion of the 
tribe of Judah," and now extends His kingdom in undisturbed 
peace, and rejoices in its glory. 

If we look back on the oracles contained in this and the 
previous paragraph, they all point to a concrete establishment 
of God's kingdom on earth. The seed (i.e. the posterity) of 
Abraham, set apart spiritually by divine election of grace, is 
to live in Canaan as the people of the true God, and so to form 
the centre of the world, this people being the medium of divine 
blessing to all peoples. The concrete form must not offhand be 
declared non-essential, as is done by Hengstenberg, 2 who finds in 
the call of Abraham nothing essentially different from what 
occurs in every divine call imposing self-denial on man. Little 
as we would deny that general rules of divine ethics and 
pedagogy are contained even in this history and its words 
of promise, still the significance of these events is not exhausted 
therein. It is a special design that God has in view in His 
dealings with this race, a unique relation into which He will enter 
1 Briefe iiber das Studium der Theologie, 1 Br. 5. 2 Christology, i. 47. 


with this people. Not merely will He enter into a peculiar spiritual 
relation to it, but its outward existence, its outward abode in the 
land of Canaan, will be a fruit of this covenant-relation. These 
externalities therefore are essential, inseparable from the spiritual. 
Here the bases are laid for a divine kingdom that is to have 
outward existence, as indeed its history is in fact confined, up to 
the end of the Old Testament, to the limits of one nation and 
bound to a definite territory. Hence the outward realization of 
this kingdom appears in these earliest oracles not as a mere 
means, but as an end and goal. 

There shall be a people of the Lord, chosen by God's grace to 
be a blessing also to others. This conception would be of high 
significance even if we learned it as a divine thought first from 
its realization. But according to the many-voiced witness of 
tradition, it was not merely in God's counsel before its realization, 
but was known to men through divine revelation. The fore- 
fathers of the nation, who migrated from the east to Canaan and 
dwelt there as strangers amid many vicissitudes, obeyed on that 
journeying a higher voice, and during the sojourn on foreign soil 
were assured by the same voice of a future, when they should 
not only possess this land, but also in consequence of their 
unique relation to God occupy an extraordinary position in the 
world of nations. Thus they obtained in spirit a glimpse into 
the consummation of the divine work just then beginning. To 
this John viii. 56 alludes: 'A/3paa/j, 6 irarijp vpwv ^aXXtacraro 
'iva iSy rov r)p.epav rrjv efirfv, KOI elSev real e^dprj. In genuine 
Johannine style the words rise to a climax : he exulted that 
he should see he actually saw and rejoiced in it. What, 
according to the promise, he rejoiced in as future, nay, what the 
promise made present and visible to him, was in reality nothing 
but the day of Christ. Accordingly, what is meant is not a 
seeing with bodily eyes, as if the saying referred specifically to 
the birth of Isaac (von Hofmann), nor a seeing after Abraham's 
bodily life, but a glimpse of faith that gladdened Abraham. 
What he beheld present with this eye of the spirit, was the 
Day of Christ, regnum Christi, as Calvin interprets the passage. 
For in point of fact only through the coming of this kingdom did 
the gracious covenant with Abraham gain its true realization and 
completion, the Lord not allowing it to fall to the ground even 
through the unfaithfulness of His people (2 Kings xiii. 23). 


M S A I S M. 

16. TJie Law of Moses. 

AS we found that divine promise heralded the origin of a 
divine rule on earth, so now also a prophetic word 
brought about its realization, nay, begot the national kingdom of 
God. For Moses, the mediator of this covenant between God and 
the nation, was himself a prophet and a prophet first of all, 1 i.e. an 
organ of divine revelation in the sense stated in the Introduction 
(p. 4). If that covenant-transaction, along with the redemption 
of the nation preceding it, was really effected by a single person 
divinely called and illumined, then as matter of fact prophecy 
formed the beginning. " In the beginning was the Word " is 
true here also the Word of God to an individual, and through 
him to the multitude. But in this potent beginning of the work 
of establishing the kingdom of God the creative act was joined 
with the word. 

In word and deed Moses showed himself an instrument of 
the Lord, unapproached by any other. He was the prophet 
without rival in respect of his intercourse with God and of what 
the Lord did and revealed by him. Of Moses it is said more 
frequently than of all other prophets together : " God talked 
with him," or "God spake to him." He is not only called 
mrp "nj^ " Servant of the Lord," and, indeed, most frequently of 
all the men of God in the Old Testament, and DTita nay, 
" Servant of God," a designation used of him exclusively ; 2 
but he is also called NUJ icar etfoxyv, the greatest among the 

1 Cf. Ewald, History of Israel, ii. 47 : " He was indeed leader, lawgiver, and 
worker of miracles to his people, but all these additional attributes fade before the 
primary one of prophet ; only as a prophet was he leader, lawgiver, and worker of 
miracles, and all his greatness belongs to him as a prophet alone." 

2 Cf. Knobel, Prophetismus der Hebraer, ii. 2. Herzog's Real-Encyk., art. 



prophets on account of the intimacy and familiarity of the inter- 
course he enjoyed with God, and on account of the clear directness 
which in consequence distinguished the revelation given to him. 1 
Moreover, his mission consisted, not merely in being a channel of 
the divine word, but in a unique, creative work it was Moses 
who, through the divine word, introduced the divine rule in Israel. 

The condition and means of this instituting of the theocracy 
was the deliverance of Israel from Egypt. This deliverance was 
accomplished through Moses the prophet. " By a prophet 
(N^J) Yahveh brought Israel out of Egypt, and by a prophet was 
it preserved," says Hos. xii. 13. Moses possessed no title to 
which he could appeal, before the heads of the people sojourning 
and enslaved in Egypt, but his divine call, the special revelation 
of the holy God imparted to him on the Sinaitic peninsula* 
By this divine word, attended with signs, he then set free his 
people. And when it was set free, he led it by that word and 
arranged its constitution. 

Thenceforward the calling of the people was to serve the God 
who had appeared to Moses. Before this people He called 
Himself mrr, 2 announcing Himself, indeed, as the same who 
appeared to the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, but at the 
same time proclaiming a new name, which disclosed his nature 
on a new side and with greater depth, and was destined to be 
a sacred motto for the divine kingdom, whose first form was now 
seen in actual existence, Ex. vi. 3. It is true, certain traces are 
discernible, from which we might gather that the name mrv was 
used even before Moses. 3 The Yahvist also says (Gen. iv. 26) 
that even in the time of Enoch men began to call on the name of 
Yahveh, which, of course, is not to be understood strictly of the 
name as such, since the Hebrew language did not then exist. The 
same applies to Gen. ix. 26. In order to reconcile the pre-Mosaic 
use of that divine name with Ex. vi. 3, the passage has not seldom 
been interpreted : " As to my name nirv I was not made known 
to them," means, " As to the import of this name I did not reveal 
myself to them." 4 We adhere to the more natural exposition, 

i Num. xii. 6 ff. ; Deut. xxxiv. 10 ff. * Cf. p. 98. 

* Cf. the name of the mother of Moses 133^, which, if the analogy of so many 

other names is decisive, would be compounded of niiT- But is it really older than 
tin- Mosaic revelation? 
4 Hence we might attempt to understand the name in the hiphil sense : He who 


and believe that here we have a thoroughly exact tradition of the 
Elohist. Whilst the Yahvist, without hesitation, uses the name 
of the holy covenant-God from the time of the Creation, in which 
he is justified by the intrinsic unity of that God with the Creator 
(D'nta) or the mighty God (Ht? ta), the other narrator uses the 
specifically theocratic name only from the point where it passes 
into the speech of his nation. 

The name niiT, with its explanation rpn IB>'S PPPIS, is certainly 
more pregnant in meaning than any to be found in any other 
language. Hereupon those who will endure nothing uncommon 
in the Bible, nothing towering above the "level of develop- 
ment " prescribed by them to the sacred history, at once reject 
the authentic interpretation and degrade the alone possessor of 
true being to a " Creator." But they do not in this way explain 
the other phrases moving on just the same height, such as Ex. 
iii. 14, a wonderful passage, considering how little gifted the 
Hebrews were in philosophy, and how plainly the thought here 
comes out, that the nature of God strictly taken can only be 
expressed by itself, every other definition detracting from it. 
There are other passages where God is called " He " simply, for 
the same reason. 1 It is poor comfort to the anxious worshipper 
of the development-process to say that these reflections were first 
made subsequently, an assumption incapable of proof, and which 
fails to explain the chief matter. 

For the rest, we do not hold it altogether impossible that the 
form Din 11 was introduced among the Israelitish people by Moses's 
mediation from the wisdom of the Egyptians. 2 Brugsch has 
found in Egyptian writings the formally analogous designation 
of the Deity, " nuk pu nuk " " I am I " (Die aegyptische 
Graberwelt, 1868, p. 38). 

Such a formal borrowing in the history of revelation need not 
surprise us. If Egypt (of course not Hamitic, but Shemitico- 

calls into existence, namely, what he has said ; therefore the God who fulfils His 
word. But, as remarked above (p. 98), this interpretation is impossible ; DTIN 
!"PriK "IK>N can under no circumstances be read as hiphil. 

1 Deut. xxxii. 39 ; Isa. xliii. 10. 

2 Wellhausen and Stade certainly speak very slightingly of this supposition, 
which would show the Elohist to be specially trustworthy. But, to say the least, it 
is more justifiable scientifically than the arbitrary assertion of Stade, that Moses 
introduced among the Israelites the Kenite worship of Yahveh (Gesckichte Israels, 
i. 2, 129 ff.). 


Japhetic Egypt) coined for the revelation of the New Covenant 
the most adequate expression, of which John's Gospel first dis- 
cerned the true application, is the evangelist on this account less 
original ? At all events the word \6yos received its true import, 
not from Philo, but through the revelation of Christ. So the 
Egyptian formula, describing the Deity as the absolutely existing 
One, is only a shadow ; Moses beheld the living God, the God 
to whom alone the name really belongs, seeing that He alone is a 
supernatural, absolutely sovereign Being. 

Moreover, the God of the Egyptian priests was a mere abstrac- 
tion, a theoretical notion. Moses beheld the absolute God as 
living absolute, not merely in His metaphysical being, but 
just as much in His holiness ; and to bring God into the life 
of His people was the aim of his whole work. The knowledge of 
the true Deity was not to be the secret treasure of a caste, but 
the common treasure of the whole nation ; and not a mere theo- 
retical possession, but the centre of all life. As Yahveh was to 
belong to this people, so this people was to belong only and 
wholly to Him, Ex. vi. 7. 

The relation of possession, in which Israel stands to God, is 
described as one of childship, sonship, Deut. xxxii. 6. More 
precisely Israel is called significantly God's first-born son (Ex. 
iv. 22), which implies two things, God's universal proprietary 
right (the lofty significance of the word protesting already against 
the conception of God as a particularistic God), and His provisional, 
special appropriation of this people. But as God's property the 
nation is bound to serve Him. And because its king is God, the 
nation's service must be a priestly one, its character Jwly, Ex. 
xix. 6. How it was to be moulded after God's will, the law of 
Moses teaches. 

Think as we may of the origin of the Torah in its present 
written form, it is impossible to deny that the nation always 
regarded the exodus from Egypt under Moses's divine leading 
as its birth-hour, 1 that in the covenant at Sinai it always saw 
the climax of divine revelation, 2 and gloried in having received 
throuh Moses's mediation a divine law (n-iin. 8 It is true that 

1 Ex. xv. 13, xx. 2 ; Hos. xi. 1, xii. 13; Mic. vi. 4 ; Jer. ii. 6 f. ; cf. Deut. 
xvi. 1, etc. 

- Judg. v. 4 f. ; Deut. xxxiii. 2 ; Ts. Ixviii. 7 f. ; Hab. iii. 3, etc. 
3 Deut. xxxiii. 4 ; Mai. iv. 4. 


originally nnto has somewhat less of a juristic sense than our 
"law." The word signifies instruction generally. So in the 
Chokma literature it is used of general moral rule and dis- 
cipline, Prov. vi. 23, xxviii. 4, 7, 9, etc. But in the theocratic 
sphere it always applies to a revelation of the divine will in the 
form of a norm and permanent rule. As sovereign, God is also 
lawgiver of His people. Hence the Torah is the theocracy in 
practice ; it appears claiming immediate observance. It demands 
obedience from every individual, because the entire nation is 
subject to it CL priori. Hence the legal character of this revela- 
tion. Moreover, its claims cover the entire life of the nation, 
putting everything in relation to the will of God. On this 
account, beside intrinsically ethical precepts there are found 
ordinances 'of civil and criminal justice, beside ritual laws those 
relating to public policy or domestic custom. 1 Precisely in the 
fact of its affecting the entire life, private as well as national, 
civic as well as religious, the character of the Torah is seen as a 
revelation of the ruling will of Yahveh, to whom everything 
relating to His people is to be subject. 

Certainly in different parts of the legislation of the Pentateuch, 
now the ethical, then the juristic, again the ceremonial, character 
predominates ; but this distinction is not absolute. Even the 
covenant-book, Ex. xx.-xxiii. 33, usually regarded as the oldest 
part, contains laws of each of the kinds mentioned. And just 
because the primal, fundamental law, that gave shape to the holy 
nation in every direction, sprang from Moses, no law whatever 
could afterwards be proclaimed in any other name than that of 
Moses. But Moses was simply the mediator, speaking in the 
name of the covenant-God. 

Thus Mosaism exhibits an epoch - making advance in the 
development of the 'kingdom of God. The covenant made with 
the patriarchs is now, after the latter in accordance with the 
promise have grown into a numerous people, made in national 
form. Herewith the divine rule is seen in actual existence for 
the first time, since the whole life of Israel, so far as it is 
governed by the divine Torah, bears witness that Israel is God's 

1 Herzog, vii. 171. A particular Levitical direction is called miD (Lev. vii. 37, 
xiv. 54 ; Hag. ii. 11, etc.; also the king's law, Dent. xvii. 18 f.) in the above sense, 
just in the same way as the whole Mosaic law with its general ethical principles 
(Ps. Ixxviii. 5 ; Deut. i. 5, xxxiii. 4; 2 Chron. xv. 3, etc.). 



people, and Yahveh is its God. The relation of the Lord to a 
national commonwealth necessarily found expression in more 
precise definition of holy places, times, persons, actions. In this 
externality lay a great defect. But so far as the divine rule 
appeared in a mighty, comprehensive, though still imperfect 
realization, Mosaism, which brought a nation under the rule of 
the true God, is the type of the future subjection of the world to 
God's kingdom. 

17. Mosaic Outlooks. 

Through the covenant transaction at Sinai and the Mosaic law- 
giving, the divine rule entered on a state of direct, present exist- 
ence. On this account references to the future retire into the 
background. The significance of Moses lay, not in prediction, 
but in exhibiting in preliminary form God's perfect kingdom. 
On this account we find scarcely any oracles of the future ascribed 
to him, the friend of God, except such as related to the con- 
quest of Canaan immediately impending, and the arrangements 
to be made there. Even the song of Moses (Deut. xxxii.), echoes of 
which are heard throughout subsequent prophecy, has to do rather 
with the future issues of the Mosaic covenant, which despite all 
interruptions by the nation's disobedience will be indestructible. 
This is also evident from Lev. xxvi. 40 ff., Deut. xxx. 1 ff., where 
certainly repentance always appears as the condition of salvation. 
But nothing is said here of a perfecting of the covenant in after 
times. Almost the only respect in which the blessing of Moses 
(Deut. xxxiii.) adds to the picture beheld by Jacob (Gen. xlix.) is 
in the new lustre to be added to the priestly tribe of Levi. Only 
cursorily does the divine saying in Num. xiv. 21 open the pro- 
spect of the whole earth being filled with the glory of Yahveh, 
i.e. of the whole human world acknowledging Him, and so being 
incorporated in His kingdom. This thought, indeed, is a note- 
worthy index of the wide aim which the Lord set Himself. As 
Lord of heaven and earth He could have no other. But for the 
time the central-point of the sacred cause lies in the present 
work of revelation, the institution of the " royal priesthood." 

Certainly the Mosaic form of the Church and of its intercourse 
with God greatly needed spiritualizing and perfecting, and so 
points to the future. Much in it is mere shadow, and seems 


to us at first sight essentially precarious, only intelligible as a 
means of setting forth an idea to be realized more perfectly 
afterwards. But in transporting ourselves back to that historical 
period we are not to suppose this reference to the future to be 
known. No single appointment of the Mosaic law is explicitly 
of a mere provisional character ; they are ordinances eternally 
valid, belonging as they do to divine revelation. No detail of 
the cultus is ordained primarily as a mere symbolic sign ; rather 
form arid idea are not yet separated, they condition each other. 
This entire system is indeed typical, but it is not felt meantime 
to be a mere type of God's final kingdom on earth, but is con- 
templated as the intended form of His kingdom. 

Therefore, however rich in meaning the system of symbols and 
types in the forms of life and worship established by Moses, 1 we 
must not, wherever the future has brought a greater perfection of 
what is here aimed at, ascribe offhand to Moses and his age a 
conscious reference to the future. For example, that the expia- 
tion of human sin is not accomplished satisfactorily by animal 
sacrifice, was for the time hidden from consciousness. 2 Expia- 
tion was really viewed as a fruit of these sacrifices. Also, the 
extension of God's kingdom over the whole earth at first fell 
into the background, men's minds being dominated by the actuality 
of the kingdom then existing. That the law could not per- 
manently unite God and man in covenant, was not yet perceived. 
Bather in it was recognised the only sure bond between God and 
every Israelite. We must therefore guard against ascribing to 
Mosaism the conscious possession of what it carried in its bosom. 
Certain as it was that Mosaic law owed its origin to a higher, 
superhuman Spirit, man's spirit was not yet complete master of 
the divine truths deposited therein, and hence at first was scarcely 
conscious to itself of the inadequacy of the actuality. 

It is, however, significant that the legally-ordained theocracy 
did not remain without an organ for its further development and 
transformation, nay, was possessed of power to entirely recreate 
itself. The prophecy that had given birth to Mosaism was still to 
remain a precious prerogative of God's people ; its original inter- 
course with its Lord was never to end. If Moses himself did 

1 Cf. p. 38. 

2 Certainly the inadequacy is already intimated in the VHTUi Lev. xvii. 11, which 
expresses condescension on God's part. ,, 


not edit the law found in Deut. xviii. 15 ff., it was at least 
spoken quite in the spirit of Mosaism. After necromancy, 
divination, and the like have been strictly forbidden, it is there 
said : " Yahveh, thy God, has not so allowed thee. Rather a 
prophet, of thy brethren, like to me will Yahveh, thy God, raise 
up to thee out of thy midst. Him ye shall hear." 

The early Christian Church (except Origen) found in this oracle 
a direct, personal Messianic prediction. So Justin M., Tertullian, 
Athanasius, Eusebius, Augustine, followed by Luther also and 
most of the older Protestants (not Calvin, however). The New 
Testament itself shows that in the days of Jesus the coming of a 
prophet of extraordinary greatness was expected on the basis of 
this passage, who, however, as a rule was not identified with the 
Messiah, John i. 21, vii. 40. According to John iv. 25, the Samari- 
tans expected from the Messiah prophetic disclosures, and since 
they relied on the Pentateuch only, it is probable that this ex- 
pectation depended chiefly on the present passage. (Soon after 
the destruction of Jerusalem the sectarian leader Dositheus gave 
himself out as the prophet promised in Deut. xviii. 18.) Heng- 
stenberg collects a number of sayings, according to which Jesus 
professed to be this prophet, John v. 45-47, vers. 38, 43 ; John 
xii. 48-50; in the same way testimonies of the apostles in 
this sense, Acts iii 22 f., vii. 37. To this Hofmann skilfully 
replies : l In John v. 46 the Lord does not mean a particular 
passage in the Torah, but the whole of it ; what Moses wrote is 
a prophecy of Him, and whoever really believed in this prophecy 
would believe in Him in whom it was fulfilled. In Peter's dis- 
course, Hofmann continues, vers. 22 and 23 are not Moses's 
testimony concerning the Messiah alongside that of the other 
prophets, but Moses's testimony to the prophets, to whose 
message a hearing is due. Finally, Stephen rebukes disobedience 
to the prophets who were commended by Moses. 

Although there may be difference of opinion respecting the 
use made by Jesus and the apostles of this saying, there can be 
no doubt that the exegetical interpretation of Deut. xviii. 15 
endorsed by Hofmann is the only right one. If the personal 
Messiah were here predicted, it would be strange for Moses to 
describe Him as like himself. Was not the Messiah to be greater 
than he ? It may be said : The reference is to the special pre- 

1 Schriftbeweis, ii. 1, 138 ff. 


rogative of the Messiah like Moses as mediator of a new 
covenant ; but according to the context the '33 applies not so 
much to the rank as to the nature of the divine revelation ; 
it more precisely defines the prophet as such, in opposition to 
magicians and necromancers. And if we include the sequel, 
where the criteria are given for distinguishing true from false 
prophets, it is evident that the subject is just as little a single 
prophet as in the law of the king in Deut. xvii. the subject is a 
single king. It is out of the question to take the JOi: as a 
collective, nowhere is it joined with the plural, rather it refers 
to the particular prophet whom the Lord will raise up from time 
to time, and thus indicates the Lord's ordinary mode of revela- 
tion. That according to later predictions * the Messiah will 
appear as prophet is true ; but in the present passage the 
prophet does not yet figure as Messiah, and no one definite 
prophet is meant (note A). 

Consequently the significance of this passage lies in the advance 
of divine revelation being foreseen, nay, certainly affirmed, by 
Mosaism ; so that the theocracy was not to remain limited to 
laws of rigid finality, but living intercourse between the Lord 
and His Church was to continue. But here attention is directed 
more to the blessings of the present than to the greater blessings 
of the future. 

Nevertheless we cannot get rid of the impression, that the 
apostolic citations (Acts iii. 22 1, vii. 37) really understood this 
7rpo</>^T7/9 in the individual sense ; and perhaps John v. 46 also 
refers specifically to the present passage. This application is 
explicable partly from the current acceptation of that age, which 
looked for a definite, extraordinary prophet, and therefore came 
prepared with this personal explanation; partly from the principles 
laid down respecting the relation of prophecy and fulfilment in 
the Introduction, p. 55, 59. The Lord was fully justified in 
describing Himself as the Fulfiller of the saying of Moses, 
because in Him the revelation announced by Moses culminated ; 
and the apostles had the more reason to appeal to the passage, 
because many were startled by the appearance of their Master 
being more of a prophetic than kingly hue. 

1 Especially Deutero- Isaiah, where, however, the personal union between the 
Davidic King and the prophetic Servant of the Lord is scarcely present to con- 


NOTE A. As a parallel to this oracle of Moses, Ed. Miiller 
(Parcdlelen zu den Messianischen Weissayunyen, p. 7) adduces the 
presentiment of Socrates, to the effect (Apoloyy, c. 18) that after 
his death the Deity would send the Athenians another teacher to 
rouse them from slumber. But, to say nothing of the profound 
difference between the sage with his stimulating, disturbing 
influence on commonplace natures and the prophetic dispenser 
of divine utterances, there is a vast interval, felt also by the 
author, between the confident promise of Moses and the alto- 
gether hypothetical prospect sketched by Socrates as scarcely 
probable, since he rather impresses the Athenians with the idea 
that they will hardly again obtain another like him. 

18. Balaam's Oracles. 

Whereas elsewhere in the Mosaic age the prophetic spirit 
was more occupied with organizing the actual theocracy than 
with looking forward to an ideal future, one oracle has come 
down from that age, which, falling from the lips of a stranger, 
is well adapted to make us feel the glory of the theocracy, and 
at the same time give a glimpse into its future ; it belongs to 
the last days of the desert-march. Eesting from its victory 
over the powerful Amorites, Israel encamps in the fields of 
Moab over against Jericho, but according to divine direction 
(Deut. ii. 9) without encroaching at all on that people. How- 
ever, Balak, son of Zippor, is uneasy at seeing these strange 
guests on his soil. He is sensible of a divine superiority in 
them, and knows not how to deal with it. The Midianites, who 
are on good terms with him, advise him, as it seems, to paralyse 
this divine power by demonic might. Balaam, son of Beor, 1 a 
sorcerer dwelling on the Euphrates, and, according to Num. 
xxxi. 8, in alliance with the Midianites, credited, moreover, with 
the power to bless and curse effectually, is summoned by the 
Midianites from his home to render the divine strength harm- 
less by the ban of his sorcery. But although this man, dwelling 
in the native home of magic, does not disclaim the heathen arts 
of the soothsayer, 2 still he has long been acquainted with the 
power of Yahveh, 3 and anxiously avoids opposing it ; on the 

1 Num. xxii. 2 ff. ; cf. Deut. xxiii. 4 ff. 

2 Josh. xiii. 22 : DDIpn ; cf. p. 16. 

* Num. xxii. 8, 13. He even calls Him with ostentation \"6x HirP ; neverthe- 


other hand, he is reluctant to forego the rewards of the king 
of Moab. This inner contradiction having come to light in a 
characteristic way, he so acts that in the moment when he is 
about to utter the curse agreed on, the Spirit of the Lord comes 
upon him and changes his curse into blessing. 

FIRST OKACLE OF BALAAM, Num. xxiii. 7-10. 

" And he lifted up his oracle (note A), and said : 

From Aram Balak brings me, Moab's king from the moun- 
tains of the East : 

Go, curse me Jacob and go, to chide Israel. 

How should I curse him whom God does not curse and 
how chide him whom Yahveh does not chide ? 

For from the summit of the rocks I see him and from 
the heights I perceive him : 

Behold a nation that shall dwell by itself alone and among 
the nations is not reckoned. 

Who counts the dust of Yakob and reckons up l the fourth 
part of Israel ? 

Let my soul die the death of the just and let my end be 
like his ! " 

The nation which he is forbidden to injure by a higher 
power than that of Balak, whom he would fain please, will 
" dwell apart " and not let itself be numbered among the other 
nations. This concrete expression speaks, in the first place, of 
its isolated abode ; but the separate spiritual position, of which 
the former is merely the outward side, is forthwith emphasized : 
In virtue of its peculiar character, Israel will not be ranked among 
the other nations. This is the first feature which the clear- 
eyed heathen finds strange in it a feature remaining peculiar 
to Israel still. On the inner excellency that makes this isolation 
a distinction this first oracle does not yet touch. On the contrary, 
in ver. lOa it mentions a second outward excellency, which 
every heathen nation would envy Israel its immense numbers, 
which means, of course, not the numbers of the people at present 
encamped in the desert, which it needed no seer to estimate, but 
the far greater increase awaiting it in the future. These numbers 

less his business falls under the ban, Deut. xviii. 10, just because it was a business. 
A similar divided state of heart is seen in Simon Magus, Acts viii. Cf Hengsten- 
berg, Geschichte Bileams, p. 15. 
1 Instead of nSDDI read "1SDB1, or better 12D 'GV 


are expressed by a metaphor used already in the patriarchal 
promise (Gen. xiiL 16), but without verbal reference to that 

Ver. 10& gives a first example of a heathen blessing himself 
by this nation, i.e. wishing himself the prosperity and salvation 
peculiar to the nation in virtue of its special relation to God, 
who rewards pious, sincere service, in life and in death. 1 

Oehler observes: 2 "And just as little is Num. xxiii. 10, 
' Let my soul die the death of the righteous/ a testimony to 
belief in eternal life (for which the passage was formerly often 
taken). The meaning of these words is rather that Balaam 
wishes he might be allowed to die after a life as richly blessed 
as was the case with the righteous in Israel." This explanation, 
however, is not just to the literal meaning, which lays the chief 
stress on the manner of dying, nay, is quite silent about the 
blessings of life, supposed by Oehler to be chief. Bather the 
speaker is here thinking of his soul's welfare, and can wish 
nothing better for himself than that his soul may fare in death 
as the souls of these pious ones (he makes no distinction within 
Israel). Certainly it is here signified that in his opinion 
man's relation to God is revealed in death, piety rewarded, 
ungodliness punished a faith so widespread among the heathen 
that it may rightly be ascribed to this seer. Instead of cursing 
the people, in this first oracle he has intimated how dis- 
tinguished above all peoples Israel will become, not merely 
in rank and numbers, but above all in piety, so that for his 
soul's well-being one could wish nothing better than to belong 
to it. 

SECOND ORACLE OF BALAAM, Num. xxiii. 18-24. Balak is 
naturally dissatisfied with the first oracle, nor will he listen 
to what the seer says respecting the power of the greater Lord, 
to which he is subject. On the contrary, he thinks the great 
multitude of Israel has influenced the seer too much. He there- 
fore leads him where merely the end of the Israelitish camp 
was visible, for to be able to see something of it seemed 
necessary to effectual cursing. How runs the oracle now ? 

1 For to a heathen the entire physiognomy of this nation must seem one well- 
pleasing to God. With D^ltJ* comp. the name }}"lp*, used in the Mosaic song 
and blessing (Deut. xxxii. 15, xxxiii. 5, 26), found elsewhere only in Isa. xliv. 2. 

3 Theol. of Old Test. i. 253. 


" Arise, Balak, and hear hearken to me, thou son of Zippor. 1 
Not a man is God that He should lie 2 nor a son of Adam 

that He should repent. 3 
Should He speak and not perform it or say, and not bring 

it to pass ? 

Behold, to bless I have received and He has blessed, I can- 
not prevent it. 
No iniquity is discerned in Jacob no oppression is seen in 

Yahveh his God is with him and the jubilation of a king 

is in him. 
God it is that brought them out of Egypt He has horns 4 

like the antelope. 
For there is no divining in Jacob and no oracling in 

At the (right) time it shall be announced to Jacob and to 

Israel what God performs. 
Behold, a people, like a lion rising up and a young lion 

raising itself. 
He will not lie down until he has devoured the prey and 

drunk the blood of the torn." 

This oracle pierces deeper into the inner life of the Israelitish 
people, and describes the blessings accruing to it from the divine 
rule and intercourse with the living God. I.V* and ?y are not 
found there. 5 No one sees in Israel those things which are 
inevitable among heathen peoples : wickedness and oppression. 
PS is moral laxity of spirit, and especially the unhappy delusion 
of superstition ; tay is wrong inflicted on the weak. The latter 
is the consequence of the former ; for reckless oppression and 
plunder of men is the fruit of the dark superstition and un- 
principled unbelief that knows not the true God. Both vices 

1 Here, too, the language is extraordinary in several particulars. On ^2, 
cf. Gesenius-Kautzsch, Gramm. 90, 36. pTNH seldom stands with 1JJ. 

2 Ewald, Ausf. Lehrbuch, 347. 

3 CnjJJTV On the vocalization, see Stade, Gramm. i. p. 76, 280. 

4 niDyin might be derived from fjy* (to uc weary), in the sense of fatigues, 
forced toils (Parforcetouren) ; then the sense would be : He is unweariable as the 
antelope. But the other passages in which the noun occurs, especially Ps- xcv. 4, 
suggest that it comes from P]y, to be high, referring here to the llty 
(symbols of strength and honour, LXX. 3o|) of the gazelle. 

4 Cf. the combination of the two, Job iv. 8, v. 6 ; Isa. x. 1. 


are inseparable marks of heathenism. Israel owes its freedom 
from both to the hallowing presence of its God, in whom it 
exults as its king. 1 What honour, to have Him as commander 
and ruler in the camp ! He leads the people safely in its 
wanderings, and under this leading it is strong and proud as the 
lofty -horned antelope. In ver. 23 a new excellency is mentioned, 
accruing to this people from its intimate relation to God, and 
especially striking the eye of the heathen seer : There no vn? 
and DDj? are found, no conjuring and magic art, i.e. artificial sooth- 
saying (of which two kinds are here named), such as was common 
among the heathen, but, as Balaam well knows, often most 
deceptive. 2 Israel need not have recourse to such evil, uncertain, 
futile arts, because what God purposes to do is announced to it 
in plain, unmistakable words. This costly privilege belongs to 
God's dear covenant-people. Moreover, this close union with 
God gives His people unconquerable strength towards the world 
without. Its victorious superiority over its foes is symbolized 
by a second animal figure the twofold lion, already familiar to 
us from Gen. xlix. 9. It is pictured to us as just risen up 
to fetch its prey. It will not lie down to rest until it has 
won rich booty. Just so stands Israel, ready for battle, on 
the threshold of the promised land. 

Thus this oracle depicts the source of Israel's peculiar happi- 
ness, which is to be sought in its exceptional relation to God. 
Thanks to the divine law it is a holy, thanks to divine revelation 
an enlightened, thanks to God's royal leading an unconquerable 
people, for whom a glorious future is reserved. 

THIRD BALAAM-ORACLE, xxiv. 3-9. A third time Balak 
attempts to draw from the seer an oracle hostile to Israel. He 
chooses a new standing-ground for him, this time Mount Peor, 
with the idea that locality most powerfully influences the 
import of the oracle. But Balaam, who, as is remarked, now 
knew God's intention, forbore this time to go for the B'trro, i.e. 
the voices or signs that were to inspire him. On the contrary, 
he directed his gaze directly to the tents of Israel spread out 
before him to draw inspiration from the sight, and took up his 
mashal and said : 

' * In 7]ta nyviri. therefore, the second word is the genitival object : the joyous 
tumult, jubilant acclamation, with which a king is greeted. 
* Cf. p. 14, 20, 23. 


" Thus speaks Balaam, Beor's son l the man speaks, whose eye 

is closed (note B). 
Thus speaks he who hears God's words who beholds visions 

of the Almighty, 

Falling clown, with eye unveiled 

How lovely are thy tents, Jacob thy dwellings, Israel ! 
Like brooks stretched out 2 like gardens by the stream ! 
Aloes that Yahveh planted like cedars by the water ! 
Water drips from his buckets 3 and his seed is in many waters. 
And loftier than Agag let his king be 4 and his kingdom on 

the increase. 
God it is who brought them out of Egypt He has horns like 

the antelope. 5 
He will consume nations, His foes and gnaw their bones, 

and crush his loins. 6 
He has couched, lain down like a lion and like a she-lion : 

who will rouse Him up ? 7 
Blessed they who bless thee and cursed they who curse 

thee!" 8 

As the seer looks on Israel encamped in the order of its 
tribes, the Spirit comes upon him, and by an inner sense he 
beholds the tribes in the promised land that region which in 
comparison with the desert-abodes of Moab, Midian, and Edom 
was a very garden. There stretch, like brooks, the long lines 
of Israel's tents, planted in fact by fresh waters, vers. 6, 7. 
The thirsty eye of the Oriental rejoices in nothing so much 
as in water. Where this is, there is life, growth, wealth, joy. 

1 "IJD 133 form as in xxiii. 18. 

- Vi3J- The niphal ,1123 is used of a measuring-line stretched out (Zech. i. 16) ; 
here of the tents or dwellings forming a long line, like brooks in the valleys. 

3 His water-buckets are full to overflowing, in contrast with the dearth of water 
among the surrounding peoples. 

4 DY1 5 the passive is not quite equivalent to the indicative (against Gesenius) ; 
rather : let his king become higher than Agag. 

5 Ver. 8a like xxiii. 22. 

6 VP1D* VSfHi He breaks his arrows. The suffix refers to the foe. But in accord- 
ance with the Syriac translation VV^n is to be read : Jus loins, as the seat of 
strength along with the bones. Otherwise LXX., Kimchi : with his arrows (zee. 

7 Ver. 9a like Gen. xlix. 9 ; there merely pji instead of 22 tT- 

8 Ver. 96 like Gen. xxvii. 29. 


Hence this blessing of God is promised in fullest measure to 
Israel, which in consequence will grow up like most stately 
trees. From this peaceful prosperity ver. 7 then passes to 
the power of military expansion dwelling in the people, by 
which it will be raised above the mightiest nations. Even 
Agag will be put into the shade by it. An Amalekite king of 
this name was taken captive by Saul (1 Sam. xv.) and killed by 
Samuel. Many consider this humbling of Amalek by Saul as 
the event here referred to post eventum. But according to ver. 
20 the oracles spring from a time when Amalek still held a 
position in the van of the nations, and just for this reason Agag 
is named here ; this was probably a common name of the 
Amalekite princes, as Abimelech among the Philistines, Pharaoh 
among the Egyptians (so also Winer). According to xxiii. 21, 
one might be inclined to refer ?]!? and mapo here to God and the 
divine rule founded in Israel. But the jussive form and the tense 
Ntwn require us to think of a future human dynasty, since the 
superiority of the divine king above Agag could not be represented 
as in course of growth. This physical superiority in attack and 
defence will be shown (as the fourth oracle will expressly state, 
here it is only intimated) when the nation has a king of its own. 
Here, too, the superiority is set forth by the image of the lofty- 
horned antelope (verbatim as before) and the majestic lion. In 
the latter comparison a verse of the blessing pronounced on 
Judah (Gen. xlix.) is exactly reproduced; just as in the expressive 
closing saying we have an important part of the patriarchal 
blessing (Gen. xii. 3, and especially xxvii. 29, etc.), according to 
which this people will be the mediator of the blessing or dis- 
pleasure of God to other nations, according to the attitude these 
assume towards it. See p. 107, 114. 

FOURTH BALAAM- ORACLE, Num. xxiv. 15-24. King Balak 
would now fain check the stream of blessings which the seer 
is pouring out on enviable Israel But he cannot arrest the 
spirit he has called forth. Balaam, dismissed in anger, says 
to him, ver. 14 : "And now, behold, I will go to my people: 
come, I will inform 1 thee what this people will do to thy 
people in the end of the days." The end of the days, which 
to Jacob was the time when his sons would grow into tribes 

1 H?S elsewhere to give counsel, here information about the future (cf. I.-a. 
xli. 28)' 


and dwell peacefully in Canaan, 1 to this heathen seer is the 
time when the whole heathen world shall feel the powerful 
superiority of the kingdom of Israel. 

" And he took up his oracle and said : 

Thus speaks Balaam, Beor's son thus the man, whose eye 
is closed : 

Thus speaks he who hears God's words and knows of the 
knowledge of the Most High, 2 

Who sees visions of the Almighty falling down with 
unveiled eye : 

I see Him, but not now I perceive Him, but not near : 

There goes a star out of Jacob and a sceptre arises out of 

And it crushes the sides of Moab and the crown of all the 
sons of revolt. 

And Edom shall be for a conquest and Seir shall be a 
conquest, his foes, 

And Israel does valiantly and out of Jacob one comes to 
destroy the remnant out of the city." 

This oracle, in which Balaam's prophecy culminates, is a true 
example of the language of seers. Everything is concrete, as 
presented to the senses ; for at first even the inner sense sees in 
the outlines and form supplied by the outer senses. A star pro- 
ceeds from Jacob ; respecting the meaning of this the parallel 
leaves no doubt : a sceptre rises aloft from Israel. Among the 
most diverse nations the star is a common symbol of ruling great- 
ness and glory. Hence the prevalent faith in the ancient world, 
that the birth or coronation of great kings is announced by the 
appearing of stars, to which belief Matt. ii. 2 alludes. In xxiii. 21, 
where a king in the camp of Israel is spoken of, we must under- 
stand God dwelling in its midst. The present passage, on the 
contrary, speaks, like xxiv. 7, of the rise of a human dominion, 
which, it is true, must stand in close relation to the divine one. 
The question, whether by this star and sceptre is meant a single 
king or a whole dynasty, goes beyond the horizon of the seer. 

1 Cf. p. 115, and on the idea in general, p. 33. 

2 In this introduction, otherwise pretty literally the same as in xxiv. 3 ff., there 
is an additional member which plainly affirms that the seer knows of things other- 
wise known only to the omniscient God. It is not impossible that this member has 
dropped out of the former passage, since there the symmetry is defective by a 


He sees but one star, one sceptre, which does not preclude the 
possibility of several persons being prefigured by this symbol, but 
in this case they must form a united power. 

That star Balaam sees in sure ascent, but still far off in time, 
and not near in space. Thus the seer himself shows the con- 
sciousness of a distance between what he sees and its realization. 
The kingdom, promised in the patriarchal oracles, but which had 
not begun to be realised in the Mosaic age, is reserved for the 
future. Only when it arrives will Israel's full power be displayed 
in the evil fate of its foes. It is characteristic of the heathen 
conception ruling in these oracles, that the only effect of the 
ideal kingdom described is the hostile one on surrounding nations. 
This is primarily its exoteric bearing. It will then fare ill with 
the rebellious hordes of the Moabites, Edomites, and with all of 
whatsoever name who ought in the name of God and right to 
submit to Israel, 1 but who are never quiet, and always ready for 
revolt. 2 That sceptre smites them heavily on both sides and on the 
crown (note C). Their land will become a conquered province. 
The remnant of their hostile population will be rooted out of 
their cities. 

But the seer does not stop here. He holds a fatal review of 
the nations, in which it appears that they are all devoted to 

Ver. 20. " And he looked on Amalek, and lifted up his oracle 

and spake : 

First-born of the nations is Amalek, and his end inclines to 


Amalek presents itself full of pretension as the first-born (pro- 
perly " beginning " in the abstract 3 ) of the nations ; it can boast of 
high rank and age as no other can ; what does that avail it ! Its 
end is to be destroyed, 4 i.e. its ultimate fate is to pass away, 
leavin no trace behind 

1 Cf. Gen. xxvii. 29 ; respecting Edom especially, Gen. xxvii. 40, p. 115. 

the rugged land, is the bushy, hilly land of Edom. The Edomites always belonged 
to the "sons of revolt ; " hence they are mentioned next to Moab. 

s For this reason they are called n^33, which is to be explained by the related 
passage, Jer. xlviii. 45, which calls the Moabites jixt?' ^33, sons of tumult. Thus 
fit? is for nStT frm HKB>. 

3 Cf. Job xl. 19. 

4 The i>articiple stands where we should expect the infinitive, as in xxiv. 24. 


Ver. 2 1 f. " And he looked on the Kenites, 1 and lifted up his 

oracle and spake : 

Thy abodes last for ever, and thy nest is hidden in the rock. 

But Kain 2 awaits devastation. How long ? when Asshur leads 

thee captive ! " 

As the Kenites form a branch of the Midianites, probably they 
here represent them. With a play on the name the seer praises 
their impregnable rnountain-nests, defying the teeth of time (i^K). 
But these will not avail them for ever ; their days also are num- 
bered. Until when ? How long will it last ? Until Asshur 
lead thee captive. Whereas the mountain-nests rather suggest 
the Kenites dwelling in the rocky south-land of Judah, who, like 
the Edomites, had their strong cities on steep heights (1 Sam. 
xxx. 29), the carrying away by Assyria suggests that a branch 
of the tribe was also settled in the north of Palestine (Judg. 
iv. 11). But this branch in any case played too slight a part in 
the deportation by Assyria for the oracle to have arisen post 
eventum (in reference thereto). The chief emphasis lies on the 
thought that the great power, Assyria, will bring to an end the 
independence of these tenacious small tribes. Then the prospect 
before the seer assumes large dimensions, as he sketches in a few 
faint strokes the decline of the next great world-power. 

Ver. 2 3 f. " And he lifted up his oracle and spake : 

Woe, who shall live before that which God brings about ? 3 

And ships (arrive) from the parts of the Chittites, 

And oppress Asshur, and oppress Eber, 

And he too leans to destruction." 

Assyria's star also the seer sees wane. It is outstripped by a 
mightier empire coming by ship from the west, from Chittim, i.e. 
Cyprus ; 4 but it is not said, ships of Cyprus come, but a fleet 
comes from that direction. Thus it is a Western power, the island 
of Cyprus having always played a special part in voyages from 
the West into the East and the opposite. This Western power, 

1 According to an exceedingly common Hebrew idiom in such mention of nations 
or tribes, the singular is used, as in our own popular language it is said : the French- 
man stands on the Ehine, Gesenius, Or. 109. 

2 The tribe is also called Kain in Judg. iv. 11. 

3 ^N iftVtsJD) properly before the fact that God does it. But Q-|t> is not to in- 
tend, determine (cf. 37 ->y Q^, -ritiiviti l <ppi<r!), but applies to the carrying out of 
a determination ; its realization ; cf. Ex. x. 2. 

* Cf. the later usage, which applies it to Macedonia, 1 Mace. i. 1. 


emerging without name or more precise indication, humbles the 
entire East, and first of all world-ruling Assyria, as well as Eber 
subject to the latter, by which is meant the cis-Euphratic Shemites 
(Israel, Edom, Moab, etc.). Then follows the oracle of doom : 
wrrDtt H3N nj| f recurring as a refrain, since it states the lot of all 
heathen nations. We might be tempted to refer this ton to 
Assyria, this world-power having been just mentioned ; but in 
this case i^y would come awkwardly between. Moreover, in 
this oracle Assyria is already in decay, and the mysterious 
Western power rules. But even the latter (designedly indicated 
by xin) tends to destruction. Then with this fact of the final 
world-power going the way of all flesh the seer's fatal review 
closes, as it ought. Heathenism nowhere has permanence. The 
great powers dissolve in rapid succession, their mere physical 
might makes no stand against the judgment of time. Along 
with this perception of the frailty of his own power and greatness, 
which this heathen here betrays, just as remarkable is the pre- 
sentiment of the Eastern seer, that the dominion will fall at last 
to the West, which fills him with special horror. Who will 
endure to live, when the most gigantic power of the East is cast 
down by a still mightier power from the West ? This catastrophe 
took place under Alexander the Great. But the subjection of 
the East to the West became more enduring with the conquests 
of the Romans. The oracle as little distinguishes Macedonia from 
Rome as Assyria from Babylon ; it sees only a great Eastern and 
Western power. History has brought the more precise distinction 
in what is seen here in general outlines (note D). 

Reviewing these oracles, we see that they materially enrich 
the patriarchal benedictions, while also partially coinciding with 
them. That Balaam knew of those promises to Abraham and 
Judah (Hengstenberg), is not indeed to be supposed. As he did 
not speak in Hebrew, his words in any case have been put here 
also into a Hebrew dress. Oral tradition for a long time perhaps 
moulded these oracles, while written redaction settled their 
formal shape. But is this fourfold blessing simply a later 
Jewish product ? This we must expressly deny. Their 
whole substance bears witness to the unusual source from 
which these mashals spring. First and chiefly, we have an 
original and circumstantial sketch of the exoteric develop- 
ment of God's kingdom, such as no Israelite, even of the 


age of Isaiah, could foresee without extraordinary revelation. "We 
can understand how a heathen seer, coming from the Euphrates, 1 
followed the political effects of the divine kingdom with special 
interest. Elsewhere a similar panorama is first found in Daniel. 
Again it is to be observed that, in opposition to the prophetic 
discourses of every age, a bright picture without shade is here 
given of Israel. The explanation is that the speaker is not an 
Israelitish prophet but a heathen, who sees before him not the em- 
pirical people whom he had to admonish and chide, but Israel 
the people of God, the depositary of revelation, in opposition to the 
heathen world. Just the Mosaic age, when this people was in 
the promising beginning of its mission and gave the first proofs 
of its divine strength, must have produced the strongest 
impression of its superiority over the heathen world. 

The enrichment of the patriarchal benedictions in the Balaam 
oracles consists precisely in what Israel had become through the 
Mosaic covenant at Sinai. We see there the people countless in 
numbers, in a fruitful land, thanks to the covenant with Yahveh, 
who brought it out of Egypt, and continually dispenses His 
revelation in its midst. This sacred nationality stands there an 
impregnable, victorious power, full of blessing, unfolding into 
true royalty, whilst every worldly power and force is sinking 
into dust. 

NOTE A. This oracle is named >B>, chiefly on account of its 
symmetrical form and beautiful finish, which comport well with 
its lofty inspiration. The language is peculiar and antique. Of. 
(ver. 7) the poetic t| n")n > rnK = -ik with He parag. from TIN, like 

nojrt for npyr, and rnjj (as in xxii. 11, 17) for nap from anp. 
See Gesenius, Gframm., ed. by Kautzsch, 67, Anna. 2 ; Bottcher, 

Ausfuhrliches Lehrbuch, i. p. 160; Ewald, Ausf. Leh/rb. 22S&; 

B. Stade, Lehrb. d. ffebr. Gframm. i. p. 324 (explains rns and 

nzjp from being pronounced like 6). 

NOTE B. The man of " closed eye " is he whose bodily eye is 
withdrawn from the sensuous, whilst from his inner one the veil is 
lifted, which hides secrets from human vision. Hence he is also 

1 Such an one might certainly in the Mosaic age he acquainted with Asshur, 
which conquered Babylon about 1270 (Maspero, Geschichte der moryenlandischen 
Viilker im Alterthum, 1877, p. 275). His foresight of the future greatness of this 
Eastern empire is not more wonderful than his prediction of the final rise of a 
"Western empire. 



called &?y ^71. To this $>ab adds a still stronger feature : He who 
falls down unconscious in the manner of the Shamans, in order 
then to speak in a clairvoyant state. Herder recalls the unmis- 
takable similarity in the case of Balaam to the modern Shamans. 
As this state marks a lower stage of prophecy (see p. 17), so in 
general the air of ostentatious mystery, with which Balaam puts 
forward his own person, contrasts with the unconscious manner 
in which the Israelitish prophets act. These use the form mrr DM. 
On the other hand, the last solemn oracle of David agrees in form 
with Balaam's mashal, 2 Sam. xxiii. 1. 

NOTE C. "TINS, dual from nxa (cf. Stade, Grarnm. i. p. 139), 
properly fades, then the side of the body. The crown comes in 
as the centre. Jeremiah (xlviii. 45) read Ypnp instead of "ijpip. ; 
so in the present passage also Koster, Ewald, Gesenius, Baur, etc. 
Considering the great similarity which already existed in the 
ancient Hebrew writing between n and -i, a confusion is easily 
conceivable. It is true, the present reading has the greater difficulty 
in its favour ; but this "ip/)P_ (reduplicated stem from n^p, to bury), 
which is said to signify " to disturb " (LXX. -rpovo^e-jsti, to plunder), 
does not really suit the object and has the context against it. 

NOTE D. The rationalistic Criticism, which will hear of no 
prediction, but would infer the date of the oracles from the things 
predicted, finds itself here in no slight perplexity. That these 
oracles sprang from the age of the early kings, may be rendered 
plausible by xxiv. 7, 17 f. (cf. xxiv. 9 with Gen. xlix. 9). But on 
those principles the mention of Assyria (xxiv. 22) would compel 
us to descend (G. Baur) to the Assyrian age (8th cent.), when the 
ideal description of Israel and the picture of its superiority to all 
heathen nations would be in sorry keeping with other prophetic 
announcements. But what shall be done with xxiv. 24, the oracle 
of the fall of the East under the dominion of the West ? Yet the 
existence of Balaam's oracles in the age of Micah (vi. 5) and 
Jeremiah (xlviii. 45) is beyond all doubt. That the oracle in 
xxiv. 24 is an addition from the age after Alexander, the three 
preceding utterances respecting the heathen world on the other 
hand being very ancient (Koster), is far too arbitrary, and 
inconsistent with what is admitted as to the age of the entire 
Pentateuch. Respecting the embarrassment of de Wette and 
Bleek, see in Tholuck, Die PropJieten und ihre Weissagungen, 
2nd ed. p. 102 f. No better than the expedient of these scholars, 
who would fain refer the agreement of the oracle with its 
incalculable, grand fulfilment to chance or later interpolation, is 
the evasion resorted to by Ewald and Hitzig to make the 
words intelligible. The former (Hist. i. 109) adduces a passage 
of Menauder, preserved in Josephus (Antiq. ix. 14. 2), according 


to which the Cyprians in Salmanassar's days had rebelled against 
the Tyrian king Elulaeus, just at the time when that Assyrian 
ruler invaded Tyrus. What has this to do with Balaam's oracle ? 
Ewald thinks a piratical fleet must (!) then have visited the Hebrew 
(= Canaanite - Phoenician !) and the Assyrian (= Syrian !) coasts. 
Of such a fleet Josephus and Menander know nothing (on the 
contrary, they say the Tyrian fleet went to Cyprus) ; and yet this 
visit of the Phoenician coast is the event under the fresh impression 
of which the oracle arose ! By this fleet, not worth naming, 
Assyria's power was put in the shade, whereas in Ewald's own 
opinion "Salmanassar wished to use this quarrel in his own 
favour in the war against Tyrus." 

This makeshift is so precarious that it has found no favour. 
And the same may be said of the somewhat more popular 
explanation of Hitzig, which is just as pretentious as Ewald's. 
Hitzig avails himself of a passage in the Armenian Chronicon 
Eusebii (ed. Ven. p. 21), according to which Sennacherib hurried 
to Cilicia to repel an attack of the turbulent Greeks, which he 
succeeded in doing, not indeed without loss, so that he had a 
monument built there to immortalize his name. Von Lengerke, 
v. Bohlen, Knobel seize eagerly on this Cilician expedition, of 
which the rich prophetic literature of that period, for intelligible 
reasons, takes not the least notice. And this is the catastrophe so 
perilous to Asshur and Eber, which an Israelite scarcely hoped 
to survive ! Plainly the prophet is credited with the most 
pitiable shortsightedness, instead of a gaze stretching far beyond 
the common horizon. But the meagreness of these explanations 
is too patent to expose anything but the perplexity here falling 
on rationalistic criticism. 1 

1 Cf. also Sclmltz, A. T. Theologie, ed. 2, p. 681 : "The peculiar obscurity of 
the section makes it hard to say when the poet wrote certainly in an age when 
Asshur stood in the foreground, cand European buccaneering hosts figured in the 
history of Hither- Asia " (!). 



19. The Prophetic Testament to the Davidic Royal House. 

AS Jacob's blessing held out before the tribe of Judah the 
prospect of eternal dominion in the land of God, so now 
this dominion is promised to a single family. Meanwhile in 
Israel the monarchy had taken shape, late indeed, but all the 
more longed for by the people. The theocrats, it is true, 
received it at first reluctantly, regarding it as an infringement of 
the theocracy ; and the motives for its introduction were also of a 
lower character than the great Mosaic ideas of God's direct rule, 
which the commonwealth was meant to realize. But this breach 
with Israel's sacred prerogative of having no king but God was 
designed, as His prophets saw afterwards, to pave the way for 
a loftier plan of the Lord, and to conduct the divine kingdom to 
a higher stage of consummation. 1 Even Saul receives his king- 
dom from a prophet's hand, and by anointing with oil; he is 
therefore called nirv rvK>E. 2 His dignity was the gift of 
God's grace ; hence its reception was a consecration as in the 
case of a priest, 3 who was also anointed, and in the case of a 
prophet, who also received this symbol. 4 The pure, golden, 
gently flowing oil, where used in worship, is in general a symbol 
of the Divine nature and Spirit. In the regal consecration, it 

1 In opposition to the notion that the contradiction in Samuel's bearing is to be 
traced to different, mutually exclusive accounts, of which one regarded the monarchy 
as a purely beneficial advance, while the other regretted it as a purely lamentable 
relapse (so Wellhausen, Geschichte, i. 265 f.), see Riehm, Messianic Prophecy, p. 
62 ff. 

2 1 Sam. xxiv. 6, 10, xxvi. 9, 16, 23 ; 2 Sam. i. 14, 16. 

3 Ex. xxix. 7, 21 ; the high priest is called "the anointed priest," Lev. iv. 4. 

4 1 Kings xix. 16. But here DE'D is perhaps used only for the sake of uni- 
formity, since in ver. 19 another symbol of consecration is mentioned. 



sets forth the unimpeachable divine majesty transferred to the 
person of the anointed one. Only the king is called absolutely 
" the Lord's anointed," 1 and, indeed, the king of Israel, of God's 
people. 2 As certainly as God stood to this people in a special 
covenant-relation, must its rightful king stand in nearer relation 
to Yahveh, being the depositary and representative of divine 
majesty. Certainly we have here a complete contrast to the 
deification of kings, such as we often meet with on heathen soil. 
Israel's king is never the personification or incarnation of Deity, 
but always remains accountable to his God, and is called to 
account by God's messengers, since this God is holy, and gives 
living revelations of Himself. 3 The Lord who conferred this 
dignity can also take it away again, but of course only He. 4 

This Saul was forced to learn, as he became less and less 
content with the position of a mere servant of the Lord, and fell 
into ruin through the heathenish self-exaltation to which he 
was prone. Already during his life another was set apart by 
anointing; and from the prophet's lips he had to hear the 
sentence of rejection, which God Himself confirmed in due time 
by the course of events. It was Samuel who was the instrument 
in the Lord's hand in assigning to the king in Israel his true 
position, his divine and human vocation. He then sought out 
the "man after God's heart" (1 Sam. xiii. 14), who was fitted 
to understand and realize this vocation David, the son of Jesse 
the Bethlehemite. Only in such a ruler could the divine idea 
unfold itself more richly. This was carried out by the prophetic 
words, which bound the future of God's kingdom to David's house. 

1 By transference in Ps. cv. 15, the patriarchs are called TVK>)0> m y anointed, 
consecrated, as they are also called S'Q}. 

2 King Cyrus also as a divinely-called ruler (Isa. xlv. 1 ; cf. 1 Kings xix. 15). 
Subsequently the word became the name of the great Davidite from whom the com- 
pletion of God's kingdom was expected ; so especially in Aramaic NITB>D> Targum 
of Onkelos on v Gen. xlv. 10 ; Num. xxiv. 17 ; Targum of Jonathan, Hos. iii. 5, 
and elsewhere ; in the New Testament either Ms<r<r/j, John i. 42, iv. 25, or trans- 
lated o Xfio-ros, i. 20, 25. 

3 Cf. e.g. the Egyptian conception of king, the product of pantheistic blending 
of divine and human being, where in truth the power of nature is adored, while 
the divine holiness is ignored. See Brugsch-Bey, Gesch. Aegyptens unter den 
Pharaonen, 1877, p. 82 f., 124 f., 481 f. 

4 That in Israel the regal dignity must depend on the choice of the sovereign 
God, is determined by Deut. xvii. 15 (see the opposite of the kingdom by God's 
grace, Hos. viii. 4), and is strongly emphasized in the history of Saul and David. 


It is true, such a testament was not entrusted to that house 
at the anointing of David by Samuel At first he was only 
chosen for himself, like Saul previously, to be ruler in God's 
place over Israel. But on the occasion related in 2 Sam. vii., a 
promise extending to his race was given him, a hereditary 
monarchy being thus established by God's grace. "\Vith this 
act the promise pointing to the realization of God's kingdom in 
Canaan comes to a conclusion. For when the people of God has 
His law, possession of His land, a permanent prophethood and 
monarchy, and finally, a local centre where God dwells, what 
more does it need ? Then a new stage of development opens. 
Outwardly a far-reaching world-mission lies before this divine 
kingdom, inwardly a great task of refining and spiritualizing. lu 
its actual state it is unable to fulfil either task without first 
undergoing the doom of dissolution. 

This testament, dictated by the prophet, was made over to King 
David when he formed the pious, magnanimous resolve to erect 
a fixed temple to the Lord instead of the provisional pilgrim- 
tent, 1 2 Sam. vii. 1 ff. = 1 Chron. xvii. 1 ff. The prophet Nathan, 
one of those true servants of God who discharged the prophetic 
office in Samuel's spirit, and perhaps came from his school, 
judging by human rules, could not conceive other than that the 
Lord would give His blessing to the resolve. But he was soon 
taught differently by the word of the Lord, which came to him 
the same night, and told him to announce to the king that the 
carrying out of the glorious work was reserved for his posterity. 
God the Lord needs no princely dwelling, and never sought one, 
but bestowed His high favour on David of free grace. Still his 
self-denying spirit and ardent desire to see the Lord dwelling 
abidingly with him shall not go unrewarded. Instead of the 
king building a house for Yahveh, Yahveh will build an abiding 
house for the king, 2 Sam. vii 11&-16 : 

" And the Lord commands to tell thee, that the Lord will 
prepare thee a house. And it shall come to pass - when thy 

1 Respecting the time in which that resolve and the message of Xathan are to be 
put, see Herzog R.E., 2nd ed. iii. 520. The genuineness of this oracle cannot 
reasonably be disputed. Even Anger (p. 30) describes it as "having arisen pro- 
bably from true tradition. " 

; ,Tni is to be read before 13, after LXX. ; 1 Chron. xviL 11. So also Wellhausen, 

Text der Bucher Samufl, p. 171. 


days are fulfilled and thou art laid to sleep with thy fathers, 
I will make thy seed arise after thee, who shall go forth from 
thy body, and will make his kingdom to continue. He shall 
build a house to my name, and I will make the throne of his 
kingdom endure for ever. I will be a father to him, and he 
shall be to me a son ; so that, when he does wrong, I will 
chastise him with rods of men and blows of the children of 
men, 1 but my favour shall not depart from him, 2 as I withdrew 
it from Saul, whom I made give way before thee. And thy 
house and thy kingdom shall be unchangeable before thee 3 for 
ever. Thy throne shall endure for ever." 

It is very significant that the gaze is here directed from the 
present to the future, nay, the establishing of the kingdom of God 
is there seen. Not David himself, but his posterity, will carry 
out the work of temple-building. Thus Yahveh will obtain a 
fixed house, but David's own house will be still firmer. For 
God promises that his posterity will inherit the throne of David 
for ever. Consequently the monarchy will be hereditary ; the 
Lord Himself guarantees the inheritance. Thus the top-stone is 
put upon the former promises, and at the same time the founda- 
tion-stone is laid for the subsequent promises, the Messianic in 
the stricter sense. The seed (jnt) is here a homogeneous but 
collective idea. What is said of the temple-building was ful- 
filled in Solomon ; but the " unchangeable mercies of David " 
(Isa. Iv. 3 : B^nsa.n in <l "ipn), first assured in this testament, 
point much farther. They are indestructible, on which account 
the suppliant in Ps. Ixxxix., in a time of heavy misfortune, with 
good reason takes the Lord at His word, reminding Him that, 
according to His testament, He cannot cast off the house of 
David for ever. 

But the present oracle makes us see still deeper into the rpa 
BTijJ (2 Sam. xxiii. 5), made by Nathan's revelation between God 
and the Davidic house. According to ver. 14, David's seed is to 
stand in the relation of son to God : " I will be to him a father, 

1 That is, not with destructive judgment, but with rods such as men use on their 

2 The better reading of the LXX. is TDK instead of yiD' 1 , as in 1 Chron. xvii. 13. 
Saul's name was perhaps not mentioned in the original text as in LXX. ; it may have 
run as in 1 Chron. xvii. 13 : 7p3Q^5 rvn TJ'Ntt ; so also Bertheau, Wellhausen. 

3 i}s? is the better reading, after LXX. and Syr. 


and he shall be to me a son." This is the most intimate relation 
of possession conceivable, and for this reason inalienable. One 
may be angry with a son, and a wise, just father, especially n 
holy one, like God, will not let his son's ill-conduct and per- 
verseness go unpunished ; but one cannot deny a son, nor will 
one kill him, but in chastising will always keep his well-being in 
view. Thus God will not so give rein to His holy wrath as 
to consume David's house, but will only afflict him in the same 
degree and with the same purpose as a human father his son. 1 

Now the relation of sonship in which David's house is placed 
to God is no new one. The whole of Israel was already placed 
by the Mosaic revelation in this relation to God. 2 But, like 
Israel among the peoples, so the regal house within this people 
is God's accepted, acknowledged child. It thus appears that this 
idea, in which divine revelation expresses men's most intimate 
belonging to God, is narrowed in order to be deepened ; it is 
made personal in order to be perfected. Not merely the house 
collectively, but each single ruling Davidite stands in this 
relation of son to God ; he sets forth in more intense potency 
what Israel in union with God is in general Ver. 14, indeed, 
along with this lofty divine idea, contains a strong reminder of 
the fact that, in consequence of the human sinfulness of David's 
seed, this relation will not be without disturbance, which must 
needs mar its purity and perfection. 3 Nor is it expressly said 
that a single Davidite will realize purely and perfectly this lofty 
idea of divine sonship. But if in the future one person should 
ever fully verify that relation, and should rule as God's son over 
Israel, according to this divine oracle it must be a son of 
David. 4 

1 On the application of this divine decree, cf. 1 Kings xi. 34. 
* Ex. iv. 22 ; Deut. xxxii. 6 ; cf. Hos. xi. 1, etc. See p. 128. 

3 The chronicler, who abridges the oracle somewhat, has left out this feature, 
because in his time the monarchy, with its weaknesses and sins, no longer existed ; 
but for him David's kingdom came into view in past and future merely iii its 
greatness. For the rest, the feature is characteristic of the true religion. Com- 
pare how differently heathen kings were regarded in their character as sons of 
the gods. 

4 That with the declarations respecting the collective seed of David (ver. 13) a 
declaration is joined applying personally to Solomon (Wellhausen would expunge 
the verse, were it not for 1 Kings v. 18), is a direct proof of the age and genuineness 
of the oracle, since, to the speaker's view, the temple-building pertained still to 
David's posterity, not to himself. In addition, Keil, with Hengstenberg, reminds us 


A second prophetic message to David, more richly unfolding 
the glory of the covenant made with him, is contained in Ps. ex. 
The most accurate explanation of this remarkable song is that of 
Ewald, 1 who makes it a kind of oracle ("Tin 11 DKJ) addressed by a 
prophet to David, perhaps when he came with offerings to the 
sanctuary at the beginning of a war : 

" A song of David : 

Thus speaks Yahveh to my ruler : Sit at my right hand 

Until I put thy foes as the footstool of thy feet ! 

The staff of thy power will Yahveh stretch out from Zion : 

Eule in the midst of thy foes ! 

Thy people is (full of) willingness on thy army-day. 2 

With holy ornament 3 from the womb of the dawn thy youth 4 
arises to thee. 

Yahveh has sworn and He will not repent : 

Thou art a priest for ever after the manner 5 of Malki Zedek ! 

The Lord at thy right hand shatters kings on the day of 
His wrath. 

He will judge among the heathen 'it is filled with corpses 
he shatters the head on a broad field. 6 

From the brook in the way he shall drink, Therefore shall he 
lift high the head." 

The heading, as we believe, is historically right, since the 
psalm is in fact Davidic, i.e. springs from David's time, and its 

that the building of the temple also waited for its real execution until Christ, and 
consequently formed a part of that mission of David's seed which outlasted 0. T. 
history, John ii. 19. 

1 Dichter des Alien Bundes, i. 2, p. 39. 

2 =: on the day when thou marchest forth ; then thy people comes of free 
impulse, without force. 

3 Knp~ l| "nri3, with holy ornament (cf. jnp min. Ps. xxix. 2, xcvi. 9 ; 2 
Chron. xx. 21). Thus it is no profane army, but a priestly people. 

* intJ'D is related to iriB' like TwriD to TIEJ'!"!- The dew of thy youth, of course, 

T : - - IT -: - . 

is not to be understood of the king's youthful age, but D^T 1 is abstr. pro concr. 

The juventus denotes the youthful manhood appearing suddenly in the freshness of 
morning, comparable to the dewdrops that glitter in countless numbers, born of the 
womb of the dawn. 

5 MVQT^ not "on account of Malki Zedek" (Hupfeld after a later idiom), but, 
" in keeping with the relation or state of Malk Zedek." 

6 H3T may contain a play on the hostile metropolis of Ammon, Rabba (2 Sam. 

T ~ 

xi. 1). But in any case by nZH f*~lX, "the broad land," is meant the battlefield 
where the Lord holds iudgment. 


contents refer primarily to David's person. On the other hand, 
we cannot persuade ourselves to accept the lamed auctoris, and 
to consider David as the prophet speaking, on which view another 
higher ruler would be addressed by him, namely, the perfect 
Messiah to come. 1 Such a conscious distinction between his 
own person and the true Messiah, to whom David was so con- 
stantly subject that he could call him his ruler, finds no sufficient 
support either in 2 Sam. xxiii. or in any other psalm. This view 
would scarcely have been adhered to so tenaciously, if the proof 
adduced by Jesus to the Pharisees for the superiority of the 
Messiah over David did not presuppose this distinction and 
subjection on David's part. 2 But the presupposition of Davidic 
authorship, universal then, cannot give the law to our historic 
understanding of the psalm. Looked at closely, the appeal 
thereto is merely the form in which Jesus brought home to the 
scribes the incomparableness of the true Messiah, well attested in 
the Old Testament. In distinction from the account of Nathan 
which announced a vision received by night, this psalm, with its 
solemn form and enigmatic, abrupt ending, is to be regarded as an 
oracle bursting directly from prophetic inspiration. It may have 
been by Nathan himself. But it may also possibly spring from 
another seer of that age, struck with the divine greatness of the 
new kingdom on Zion, and depicting it in prophetic tones. This 
panegyric, just because it is prophetic, applies not to the earthly 
ruler as such, but to the sacred dignity and glory conferred on 
him by God. This glory is so great that the most renowned 
monarchy (that of David) is but a weak vessel, scarcely able to 
contain it. But it was such a vessel. God would have His 
condescension in dwelling beside David on Zion regarded as 
His Son taking the place of honour at His right hand. David's 
victorious campaigns would display the power of God that would 
fight for him against all foes. Nay, God acknowledged him, the 
pious singer of Israel, as priest, his care for and management of 
the sanctuary being shown in many ways. Although his priest- 
hood was not realized, yet God's word and oath promised him 
one. The completed monarchy would not fall behind the one 
that Melchisedek once possessed in David's city, who wore the 
priestly fillet along with the crown. And like his kingdom, his 

1 So still Hengstenberg, Delitzsch, v. Hofmann (in his last statement). 
- Matt. xxii. 41-46 ; Mark xii. 35-37 ; Luke xx. 41-44. 


priesthood should be eternal. The psalm closes with images of 
war and triumph. Ver. 3 exhibited the divine king as he 
marched forth, voluntarily attended by countless hosts of youthful, 
priestly warriors, and ver. 4 hinted how he himself, the devout 
suppliant, did not disdain to draw near to God as priest before 
going to meet the foe ; and at the close, where God Himself fights 
by his side (ver. 5), we see him victoriously ruling on the blood- 
drenched, corpse-covered field, and, after sharing every toil with 
his warriors (" of the brook in the way he shall drink " *), 
victoriously lifting up his head. 

How far this picture of victory and triumph through God's 
power was realized in David, Ps. xviii. = 2 Sam. xxii. shows, 
where he sings to us how by God's help he leaped over walls, 
and the Lord made his foes the footstool of his feet. But just 
as clearly we see the incongruity between God's oracle and the 
actuality, when we compare the lofty Ps. ex. with the entire 
government of David. That government is far from being the 
glorified priestly kingdom pictured in the song. With all its 
victories it falls far short of the utterances of the prophetic 
singer, so that we have to choose between two views : Either we 
have here an enthusiastic idealization dealing in hyperboles and 
above criticism, or David's greatness and dignity had in God's 
eye a significance that went far beyond its empirical form. The 
latter supposition alone is worthy of a prophetic oracle. It is 
confirmed by the further development of Messianic prophecy, 
the life and sinew of which is just this, that divine thoughts, 
realized at first imperfectly, must reach complete development. 
Instead, therefore, of " idealizing " actuality, this oracle utters a 
creative word of God, which reveals the Anointed of the Lord in 
His heaven-willed glory. 

There he sits beside God in abiding fellowship, sharing in God's 
honour. Consequently all his foes must become subject to him 
(vers. 1, 2). And His own people does not serve him by con- 
straint, but in pure willingness ; it offers itself in a moment, 
countless and fresh as the dew of morning, clad in holy, 
festal attire. It is not a common army that is in question. 
The whole host is made up of ministers and priests, holy like its 
Lord, ver. 4. Let us note how the priestly dignity elevates the 
king. He has no common conflict to wage. God Himself 
1 See David's fatigues and marches as in 2 Sam. xxiii. 17. 


vanquishes his foes ; but he bears the consecration conferred 1 > y 
the presence and high service of God. Thus his triumph is 
certain, in God's strength he inflicts judgment on the heathen 
the hostile nations around, and his voluntary abasement becomes 
the path to greatness. 

Thus this prophetic oracle adds something of high import to 
what was said of the Davidic monarchy in 2 Sam. vii. It 
unfolds what is implied in the divine sonship conferred there, 
on one hand in reference to its power which no foe can resist, 
and on the other in reference to its relation to God. To the king 
on Zion a double crown is promised, a double sacred dignity 
secular as well as religious supremacy, dominion as well as 
priesthood. As the nation, nay, all nations, are in this king to 
honour the ruler set in God's place, so God will acknowledge in 
him the priestly representative of the nation, nay, of the whole 
world. And like the Davidic monarchy according to 2 Sam. vii., 
so according to Ps. ex. the Davidic priesthood l is to have eternal 
existence. This does not preclude the possibility of the Davidic 
king for a time forgetting his priestly dignity, and, as far as he 
himself is concerned, losing it ; but on God's part the arrange- 
ment is irrevocable (BniP &) and matter of solemn oath, as the 
Epistle to the Hebrews emphasizes (vii. 21). He will not 
definitively detach this dignity from his person. According to 
our explanation, the psalm does not indeed expressly say that 
only a future Davidite will perfectly realize the divine decree 
of a priestly monarchy on Zion, and maintain this dignity in 
His own person for ever. Only the power of the divine decree 
and the fact of human imperfection involve of necessity that a 
greater than David should verify this utterance. But if a ruler 
from David's house should answer perfectly to God's word of 
promise, he must so the psalm determines unite the high- 
priestly with the kingly dignity ; and his people must not only 
be voluntarily subject to him, but also render to God priestly 

The psalm is not merely typical, but prophetic, since it speaks 
expressly of the future. On the other hand, David, through the 
medium of whose person the psalm beholds the future, is a type. 

1 But observe that in this psalm not David's house, but only himself (or, the 
reigning king) is spoken of. He himself will rule for ever as priest. This personal 
strain corresponds to the ideal character of the oracle. 


The high theological import of the psalm would not be materially 
lowered, even if the promise were given to a later Davidic ruler 
as the temporary representative of the Davidic monarchy. But 
in point of fact it is not easily conceivable that the union of 
royalty and priesthood was seen, at first typically, in any other 
than David who stood nearer to God than any one else, and 
presided over the sanctuary. And the whole language breathes 
a high antiquity. We here follow Ewald, who remarks : " Since 
the language also offers no opposition, it is to be regarded as 
certain that the king is David, for king and kingdom appear 
here still at the highest stage of greatness and glory." 

The fulfilment of this psalm in its highest significance was 
claimed by Jesus in the passages quoted above as something 
raising Him above David. And certainly as those expressions 
were inspired by the Spirit of God, they first found their fulfil- 
ment in David's perfect Son. Him has God exalted above 
everything earthly, making Him sit down " at His right hand." 
The latter phrase, common in the New Testament, 1 originates in 
the present psalm. Expressly citing the words of this psalm, 
the Epistle to the Hebrews asserts the super - angelic majesty 
of the Son of God (i. 13) and the eternal High Priest (v. 6, 
vii. 17, 21, viii. 1, x. 12 f.). If de Wette, Hupfeld, d al, think 
that the king who crushes heads and fills the land with corpses 
cannot be the Christian Messiah, Christ Himself and His apostles 
judged otherwise. In the wondrous prophetic picture they saw 
the divine-human head of God's kingdom on earth. And this 
with good reason. The image goes far beyond the actuality of 
the Old Covenant, glorifying its brightest forms with unwonted, 
loftier splendour. On the other hand, the N. T. Christology does 
not lack the wealth of realistic revelation which modern theology 
despises. As matter of fact, the powers of the outer world are at 
the service of the exalted Christ. And the bloodshed and fields 
of corpses of which history tells, are in truth divine judgments 
designed to place everything at last at the feet of His Anointed 

1 Acts ii. 32 ff., v. 31, vii. 55 f. ; Rom. viii. 34 ; Eph. i. 20 ; Col. iii. 1 ; 1 Pet. 
iii. 22 ; cf. Acts iii. 21. 


20. Echo of the Prophetic Word in the Songs of the 
Anointed One. 

In the poetry of the psalins generally we hear a hundred - 
voiced and yet harmonious lyrical echo of the acts and words of 
divine revelation. The prophetic messages to the Lord's Anointed, 
just noticed, found a many- voiced echo in these songs, proving 
that the import of the oracles was received into the understanding 
of king and people. But all the more must this he the case in the 
Psalms, as David, the chosen ruler, was, according to unanimous 
tradition, also the creator of this class of song. 1 From his lips 
also we first hear the sound of thanks and sacred rejoicing for 
the salvation vouchsafed to him. The first, most direct feelings 
of profoundly humble thankfulness, which the oracle of Nathan 
(2 Sam. vii.) awakened in David, find expression in the thanks- 
giving (ver. 1 8 ff.), in which the king acknowledges as the last and 
greatest, unmerited benefit of the Lord, that God spoke with him 
of the far future, and promised an eternal kingdom to his house 
after him. 

Another royal song, namely, Ps. ii., a loftier outburst of the 
prophetic spirit, must be regarded as an echo of the divine 
messages in 2 Sam. vii. and Ps. ex., whether it was the direct 
sequel of such a prophetic oracle or the fruit of an inner revela- 
tion, which gave the king closer and deeper insight into the 
meaning of the divine covenant. The Messianic King here 
declares the import of the divine Sonship conferred on Him, and 
that in reference to His relation to the world : As God's Son He 
claims rule over the world. Thus we assume that the Messianic 
King is Himself the singer. At all events His divine, kingly 
feelings find expression here. And although, as in Ps. ex., the 
significance and worth of the song do not depend on the ruler of 
that house under or by whom it was sung, still the consciousness 
of the divine-human greatness conferred on him is so vigorous 
that it is hard to ascribe it to a later king of Judah after the 
division of the kingdom, when the heir of David did not even 
reign over his own land. Ewald suggests Solomon ; Hofmanu, 
still better, David himself. The absence of Ttp is the less to be 
urged against this view as the heading of this psalm seems lost 
altogether. Whether, then, the song is by David himself or some 

1 2 Sam. xxiii. 1 ; cf. Amos vL 5 ; 2 Sam. xxii., etc. 


one afterwards, at all events it speaks of the divine adoption con- 
ferred on David and his house. And whereas the thanksgiving in 
2 Sam. vii. 1 8 ff. rather takes into view the eternal continuance of 
David's house, this psalm illustrates the divinely-established filial 
relation of the person of the reigning Messiah. 

" Why do the peoples rage and the nations meditate vain 

things ? l 
The kings of the earth take stand 2 and the rulers consult 

together against Yahveh and His anointed 
' Let us rend asunder their bonds and cast from us their 

cords ! ' 3 

He that sitteth in the heaven laughs the Lord derides them. 
Then will He speak to them in His wrath and in His fury 

He will terrify them : 

' Yet have I established my king on Zion my holy moun- 
I will make announcement concerning Yahveh's decree : 4 He 

spake to me: 

' My son art thou ! I have to-day begotten thee. 5 
Demand of me and I will give peoples to be thy inheritance 

and the ends of the earth for thy possession. 
Thou wilt dash them in pieces with iron sceptre like a 

potter's vessel wilt shatter them.' 6 
And now, ye kings, be prudent be instructed, ye judges of 

the earth. 
Serve Yahveh with fear and exult with trembling. 

1 By tjvn, to bluster, roar, is meant the stormy unrest, tumult, which announces 

- T 

revolt ; by n3!"l> properly to hum, buzz, and then to muse, when one murmurs to 
himself half-aloud the unhappy mood which bespeaks evil designs, which, 
however, as p^ says beforehand, will be in vain. 

2 35FTin, defiantly to offer battle, challenging to enter the lists, as in 1 Sam. 
xvii. 16. 

3 Only the plural flilDiO (and Q^IDID, Ps. cxvi. 16) occurs, from a singular 
1DiO = 1DNO from "^DN, cf- P S - c ^ii. 14. Observe the sonorous poetical suffixes. 

4 "ISO with ">X is to make announcement in regard to a thing (as in Ps. Ixix. 26) : 
" circumstantially and therefore solemnly " (Delitzsch). ph, statute, fixed decree. 

5 Tpm^N see vocalization in Gesen. Gramm. 44, 2. 

6 Djnn fr m Vin> to break ; on the other hand, the LXX. (*oi/u,avi7s alrous I* /5a/3S 
fftinpS.) read Qjnn from njn, which, however, in view of the parallels must be 
rejected. VQ3, allied to ps, signifies : to scatter, burst, rend asunder. 


Kiss the Son (note A), lest He be angry and ye perish in 

the way ! 

For soon His wrath will burn Well for all that trust in Him." 

The poet sees the princes and peoples around him in commo- 
tion. The newly - arisen, divinely - founded monarchy on Zion 
stands in their way. True, they will be quickly vanquished and 
taken captive, but they already roar and rage like the ocean at 
the rising of a storm. The keen eye of the enlightened poet sees 
that the great ones are preparing for rebellion and planning 
alliances, and the nations only wait for the signal to break out in 
open revolt against the Lord, whose anointed representative is the 
king on Zion. Already is heard here and there the wild cry for 
deliverance from his rule as an unworthy yoke. But with the 
first words judgment is passed on this mad spirit of rebellion. 
In vain is all this consulting and arming, for really the enmity 
that would set aside God's chosen ruler is directed against the 
God of heaven and earth. As the king looks out upon this wild 
tumult a feeling of holy pride comes over him, whereas in God's 
presence he was overcome by the sense of his own lowliness and 
nothingness. Looking at these worldly kings, he learns who lie 
is and who they are. Why, for what end cries he to the 
blinded rebels do they rage and brood over empty, vain things ? 
With like confidence Isaiah (viii. 9 f.) addresses the heathen 
nations : " Equip yourselves, but tremble ; form a purpose, and 
it shall be broken ! take counsel, and it shall not come to pass ! " 
To disclaim obedience to the Lord Himself and try to get rid of 
His bonds is a desperate undertaking. 

The reply to this declaration of war is right worthy of the 
divine King : " He that sitteth in the heavens laughs." It is 
the laughter of divine irony, smiting the senseless bearing of the 
weaklings who act as if they would storm heaven ; cf. Ps. 
xxvii. 12 f. But this laughter is the forerunner of the divine 
wrath, and is therefore terrible. " Then will He speak to them in 
His wrath." This IX often answering to " now," often to " one 
day " fixes a definite moment, here the hour beheld by the inner 
eye as near, when He will reckon with them as a judge and 
avenger, whereupon all their courage will collapse. Without 
preface His decree strikes into their talk ; to their obstinacy 
He simply opposes His sovereign will : " And / have established 
my king on Zion, my holy mountain." Here it stops. 


In ver. 7 the king himself speaks, which is most natural if he 
is the singer. To all the world he proclaims the decree of God 
made known to him by revelation. Yahveh has spoken to him in 
solemn asseveration : " My son art thou ; to-day have I begotten 
thee." In these words He has acknowledged him as belonging most 
intimately to Himself, investing Him even with personal kinship 
to God. The " I have begotten thee " suggests still more strongly 
than the simple " My son art thou," that the Messianic king has 
received a higher life from above. The conferring of this dignity 
was bound in the speaker's case to a definite point of time. The 
" to-day " was his Messianic birthday, whether on this day he first- 
entered outwardly on his office, or its inner greatness was then 
revealed to him by prophet's message or personal inspiration. 

In virtue of his new divine dignity everything is virtually sub- 
ject to him, as certainly as heaven and earth belong to his Father. 
Everything also will fall to him, when he desires it of his 
Father. In his mediatorial position he is lord of the world. 
With sovereign authority he rules at pleasure in the world of 
nations, as ver. 9 says in drastic style. His power is to that of 
worldly kings as iron to clay. 

In such circumstances ( n W) these kings are exhorted for their 
own good to give up their resistance, ver. 10 f., and to submit 
willingly to Yahveh, because their own welfare demands it. 
" .Rejoice with trembling ! " is the charge to those doing homage. 
This charge, like the following kiss of homage, implies that not 
only fear, but inclination also, should lead them to submit to this 
lofty God and His great vicegerent. The feeling meant is the 
mixed feeling of shrinking and delight awakened in mortals by 
the glorious revelations of the holy and merciful God, Hos. iii. 5, 
xi. 10 f. Subjection to the Lord is at the same time subjection 
to His Messiah ; nay, the service required by God consists in 
obedience to the latter. Therefore " kiss the Son," that " He," 
namely God, who requires this, " may not be angry." That God 
Himself, not the Messiah, is the subject in the last words of the 
song, is evident from the to "'pin^ which is a standing phrase for 
taking refuge with the Lord. 

It is high time to anticipate the divine wrath, since the measure 
will soon be full l that will bring about its outbreak. But the 

1 This is the meaning of the t3J?O3- Little more is needed for His wrath to burn. 
Hence the element of time also lies in the expression. 



psalm closes in cheerful tones. Happy they who, instead of proudly 
building on their own counsel and on fleshly power, seek their 
strength and refuge in the Lord ! The greatest benefit for the world 
is the rule of God and His Anointed, against which it strives. 

The view taken of this psalm as a whole differs among 
expositors. As with Ps. ex., modern writers (Hengstenberg, 
Oehler) suppose that David spoke of another, ideal personality, 
more precisely, spoke here in his name. But this view, as well 
as that of Hupfeld, according to which a later writer personated 
David in thought in order to set forth the bare idea of Messiah- 
ship, is refuted by the direct vividness of the piece, which points 
plainly to the attitude of earthly princedoms towards an actually 
visible king on Zion, 1 so that except with violence we can only think 
of the present King-Messiah, and in any case of the Messiah. 
That the state of the world set forth in the song fits no part of 
David's reign, cannot be maintained. David's early government 
was encircled by foes, who only submitted to his authority on 
compulsion (see Ps. xviii. 42 ff.). After Solomon's time few 
princes and rulers can be named who were subject to the 
Davidic king. To think, with Ewald, of Solomon's anointing on 
Zion, is needless. For, apart from the consideration that the 
anointing in Solomon's case did not really take place on Zion, it 
is not expressly spoken of. 2 We therefore prefer the Davidic to 
a later date, David giving utterance to his joyous rapture in these 
inspired words either immediately after Nathan's oracle respecting 
his house, or which is more probable after a revelation 
respecting his own person such as Ps. ex. contains. 

In any case, the Messianic dignity peculiar to the heaven- 
chosen king of Israel is here set before our eyes in its 
intrinsic grounds and outward significance. In both respects it 
is altogether extraordinary. The peculiarity distinguishing the 
Messiah from all other men and princes is this, that he is 
to be called and to be God's Son. How great the range of this 
dignity, appears from the fact that the right of universal rule 
is promised him. It is thoroughly out of keeping with the 
seriousness of such intimations of the Divine Spirit to speak of 
mere poetical hyperboles or extravagances which, falling from 

1 Cf. H. Schultz in the Theol. Stud, und Krii. 1866, p. 29 f. 

2 TOD3 Joes not signify : / have anointed ; ypj is rather : to pour, pour out, 

: - T .* 

hence here : to establish, instate. 


the lips of a singer friendly to the king, did not agree with the 
reality, and so were made by a later age into an ideal, whose 
realization was expected in the future. No, every word here is 
well considered ; divine utterances form the basis ; hence the 
great idea is worked out to its boldest consequences. But its 
representative is meanwhile imperfect. That a future king will 
realize it fully and completely, we do not find expressly foretold 
in the psalm. But if One in the future shall exhibit this divine 
kingdom in complete fashion, according to this psalm He must be 
God's Son in a unique sense ; and in consequence, dominion over 
the whole earth must fall to Him to the earth's advantage. 

In whom these divine words found their true fulfilment, has 
never been matter of doubt to the Christian Church. One alone 
could call Himself in the deepest and fullest sense " Christ, the 
Son of the living God" (Matt. xvi. 16), a dignity raising Him, as 
Heb. i. 5 asserts, above the angels. 1 In Him alone person and 
Messianic dignity were completely one, a pure effulgence of God, 
so that He was the true representative to the world of the Father 
in heaven (John xiv. 7, 9). To Him, then, belongs dominion on 
earth, Matt, xxviii. 18 ff. But as in Ps. ii. the Lord's Anointed 
becomes the object of hostile sentiment on every side, so also 
Christ, as Acts iv. 25 ff. reminds us, became the object of hate to 
Jews and Gentiles. While this was the case even during the 
time of His earthly walk, after His exaltation to God's right 
hand His rule on earth is still a mark for fierce assaults and ever 
new storms (Luke xix. 14). Not merely kings and nations seek 
to shake off this yoke. Princes in the intellectual realm have 
also not seldom given the signal, the thoughtless crowd taking it 
up : " Let us cast away their bands ! " Through struggles meant to 
serve the cause of progress and freedom there shrieks not seldom 
the watchword, springing from stubborn, rebellious hearts : " We 
will not have this man to reign over us ! Let us shake off their 
bands," i.e. God's holy government revealed by Christ in its per- 
fection. This passion for rebellion is foolish, the real folly of 
the world. Against the Mighty One, whose throne is in heaven, 
this storm-flood of earth's strong ones avails nothing. The foes 
of God prepare their own destruction, because, instead of sub- 

1 In Acts xiii. 33, also, Ps. ii. 7 is quoted to confirm the divine Messianic dignity, 
according to Codex D as a saying of the first Psalm, because Ps. i. was regarded 
as an introduction to the book, and was therefore not numbered. 


mitting to God's Son as Prince of Peace, they become His prey 
as Judge. In particular this world-spirit is foolish, because it 
takes so little account of its own welfare, which would be secure 
in the service of this much-hated prince. " Blessed are they who 
submit to Him from love ! " 

Further, a kind of answer to the victory-promising oracle of 
Ps. ex. is given in the unquestionably Davidic thanksgiving after 
victory, Ps. xviii. = 2 Sam. xxii., which also at the end makes 
reference to the covenant-promise remaining to his seed. 

The "last words" of David, 2 Sam. xxiii. 17, with a reference 
to 2 Sam. vii., also relate to the bright future of his house, an 
oracle mysteriously introduced, prophetic in form, and so far 
similar to Balaam's oracles, for the rest, like those oracles of 
original, antique speech, and unimpeachable authenticity. These 
last words run : 

" Thus speaks David, Jesse's son ; thus speaks the man placed 

on high, 1 

The anointed of the God of Jacob the lovely one in the 

anthems of Israel : ' 2 

The Spirit of Yahveh has spoken in me 3 and His word is 

on my tongue. 

The God of Israel said to me the Piock of Israel spoke : * 

A Euler over men, just a Ruler in God's fear 

And it is like morning-light, when the sun rises, a moming 

without clouds ; 

By sunny brightness, by rain verdure (springs up) from the earth ! 

For is not my house thus with God ? 5 for an eternal 

covenant He has made for me : 

1 ^JJ, properly substantive.: heiyht in the local accusative, stands here iu pau.sil 

form $jy, as in Hos. vil 16 ; cf. Hos. xi. 7. Q^n for Dpi!"!, see Stade, Gramm. 

i. p. 234. 

2 Properly, the lovely one, the charmer of the songs, 

3 Ver. 2 announces generally that he has received divine revelations ; ver. 3, on the 
other hand, proclaims what was told him by inspiration. 3 -Qrj is used properly 
of the "divine suggestion " (Keil), which must precede the prophetic announcement, 
Hos. i. 2. 2 in such cases is not merely 3 instr. ( = -p^), but denotes : (to speak) 

into one. 

4 Ver. 3, ^ is to be joined with 1QX, contrary to the Masoretic division. 

5 '131 X^ ^3, according to the context, is to be understood interrogatively, just as 
at the end of the verse rVDV i6 '3 ; therefore yfe for j&-|. 


Well furnished with everything and made sure ; for all my 

welfare and all satisfaction, should He not make it 

spring forth ? 
And the good-for-nothing like thistles, which one shuns, are 

they all l for one seizes them not with the hand, 
And if one touches them, he arms himself with iron and spear- 

shaft and with fire they are consumed just where 

they abide." 2 

It is owing to the solemn form of this testament of David 
that vers. 3& and 4a have no verbs, nor is the logical relation 
of the two sentences indicated. On this account the beginning 
has been variously understood. Many complete ver. 3 thus : "A 
ruler over men will be or come" etc., " then shall it be like light 
of the morning," etc. (Hengstenberg, Keil, Tholuck, Oehler, et al.}. 
The ellipsis would be strong, but not impossible in so pathetic 
an oracle. In this case the oracle would announce a ruler in 
future days (of course from David's house, ver. 5), in whom 
justice, fear of God, and power over the world would be perfectly 
united, so that his empire would be greeted as the welcome 
dawn of divine light. In support of this prophetic interpretation 
appeal is made to the solemnity of the entire oracle, which must 
perforce contain a significant look into the future. It might also 
be thought that if David did not during his life consciously 
contrast the true person of the God-anointed one with himself, 
at least at his death he attained the higher knowledge that the 
true and real kingdom of God and its king belonged entirely to 
the future. But decisive against this interpretation of the first 
verses, in our opinion, is the antithesis of vers. 6 and 7, which 
describe how the wicked who do pure harm inspire pure aversion, 
and so will be destroyed root and branch. This mashal-like 
oracle requires just as general a meaning to be given to vers. 
3 and 4, which are then aptly followed by the great, definite 

1 Di"l;>3, the ancient, uncontracted form, of which QSj3 is a contraction. Gesenius, 
Gram. ''91, 1, 2. 

2 Vers. 6 and 7 describe in a few drastic touches how one avoids even coming 
near the ungodly, the bad (^JJ'^3, opposite of just and God-fearing). Even while 
seeking to exterminate, one cannot touch them. One burns them on the spot 
where they dwell (rQBQ), so as not to spoil other places with seeds of thistles and 
thorns. According to Wellhausen, indeed, r>3$3 has crept in from the following 


example, ver. 5. We therefore complete the sense thus (like Ewald, 
Thenius, Bunsen, et al.} : " If a ruler over men is just, a ruler in 
God's fear," or " If one rules justly over men, God-fearing, then 
is it like morning light, when the sun rises ; " i.e. from his 
government pure blessing and satisfaction proceed ; it is like a 
promising daybreak, when the bright rays after refreshing rain 
gloriously lure forth every green thing. This general rule, a 
testament worthy of the great king, in whom it was proved most 
gloriously true, is then confirmed by his own example, ver. 5 : 
" Is it not so with my house ? " What holds true generally on 
earth (cf. the general onsa) is shown most palpably in his govern- 
ment. Moreover, the house of him who is ever intent on justice 
and God's fear has been glorified by God for all future time, and 
made sure by an " eternal covenant." Or, must not in fact all 
well-being and satisfaction spring up for him in the future from 
his house, according to the promise of the Lord ? The true 
servant of God, the man after God's heart, thus declares when 
dying, that fidelity brings rich reward, and that from justice and the 
fear of God pure blessing springs beyond hope and understanding. 
Here, certainly, his gaze is directed to the future. What he 
leaves behind is a crop full of promise, which has yet to grow ; 
for now when he, the old king, is departing, the sun is not going 
down, but the morning is only breaking in undreamed-of splendour. 
The salvation assured to him by God's grace will yet blossom. 

If, indeed, P^V xpo were understood of a future ruler an- 
nounced by David, the reference to the future would be more 
definite and personal. We should then have the considerable 
advance that, as Oehler puts it, " the knowledge of the idea of 
monarchy advances to the individualizing of an ideal." Nay, a 
definite ruler would be announced, marked by justice and piety 
in fullest measure, in whom all the glory of his house would be 
unfolded. On the other hand, according to our more general 
interpretation, we do not find in the words any more personal 
view than in 2 Sam. vii. But David's gaze rests when dying, 
like Jacob's, on the future, where first the salvation will spring 
iip, which he has only seen in germ, but which is secured to him 
by God's inviolable promise. The gaze also of the good among 
his people is henceforth fixed hopefully on the future days of the 
house of David, which, built on such firm ground, promises to 
culminate in greater glory than now belongs to it. 


NOTE A. 13, standing absolutely, applies to the Son of Him who 
is spoken of in the other words : " that He be not angry," etc. The 
solemn isolation of the word intimates the loftiness of the idea it 
contains. On the etymology of 13=}3 (in Hebrew again, Prov. 
xxxi. 2, also poetic), see Gesenius, Handworterluch, newly revised 
by F. Miihlau and W. Volck, sub voce 13. P^J (kal and piel] with 
personal accusative means nothing but to kiss, Sol. Song i. 2. The 
kiss of homage is meant (1 Sam. x. 1) ; and, indeed, the word is used 
chiefly in reference to the homage done to divine beings, 1 Kings 
xix. 18 ; Job xxxi. 27. The other acceptations of the passage 
proposed (cf. Hupfeld, Comm. zu den Psalmen) are unsatisfactory ; 
so, too, the impersonal acceptation of the 13 as adverb, purely, 
sincerely (Aq., Syrnm., Hier.), and the reading 13 (Hupfeld) : unite 
yourselves to Him, a construction without linguistic warrant. 

21. The Typical Significance of David, Solomon, and the 
Davidites in Prosperity and Adversity. 

Although David exhibited the Messianic idea in his person and 
kingdom but imperfectly, and Solomon realized the hopes at 
first set upon him yet more imperfectly, still their reign formed 
the zenith of the Israelitish kingdom, and no kings were so 
worthy as they of the high dignity with which they were invested. 
Hence their life and songs, especially those of David, were after- 
wards regarded as typical of the greater Messiah to follow. Thus 
a series of psalms became in a manner prophetic, although in 
themselves they contained no reference to the future. These 
are the properly Typical Psalms. On one hand, in the life of 
those princes or the later Davidites there are conspicuous 
epochs (coronation, marriage, victory, deliverance) well suited 
to cause their divine dignity to be celebrated in songs which 
were afterwards interpreted of the future ; while, on the other 
hand, there were dangers, assaults, and persecutions calculated 
to bring vividly out the hostility of the world to the Lord's 
Anointed, the sufferings of the elect saint and the divine help 
and exalted honour bestowed on him after humiliation. The latter 
picture, alongside the pictures of Messianic glory, bore abiding 
witness to a mysterious necessity of suffering in the supreme 
Servant of God, which suffering also pointed to a purer consumma- 
tion of the idea of the Servant in the future. Finally, David the 
devout suppliant and Psalmist became a type of the sincere, 


believing souls who stand in living intercourse with their Lord 
and pour out their inmost thoughts before Him. On this 
account his name has been assigned to many songs of this class. 
And not a few sayings of such songs seemed afterwards to be a 
prophecy of the greater Son of David, who was to exhibit still 
more perfectly than His ancestor the ideal of true saintliness. 

We have seen that the Messianic idea, traceable in its root 
to the revelations imparted to David and unfolded in the songs 
first sung by the Anointed one, is as follows. The Davidic king 
stands in most direct relation to Yahveh, who in virtue of His 
covenant is really king of this people. Chosen and appointed by 
the Lord, he represents before the people, nay, before the world, 
the almighty, sovereign ruler of heaven and earth. But at the 
same time the vocation of the holy people to be at once God's 
servant and son culminates in his person. Thus before the 
Lord the Davidic king represents his people in priestly 
fashion. The national form of the covenant-idea here becomes 
personal, without the thought of the national kingdom of God 
being given up ; for the person thus intimately one with God 
is the national king, the mediator between God and His people. 

It is self-evident that this idea was bound to make itself heard 
in the songs and other utterances of the Church under prophetic 
stimulus. This is the case in the so-called Regal psalms, where 
the Davidic kingdom is celebrated as God-chosen, or the Lord 
is invoked on its behalf, or on behalf of the reigning king 
(cf. Psalms like xx., xxi., xlv., etc.). But the ideal element of 
the Davidic kingdom was especially prominent where any 
epoch in the government of special lustre set its divine dignity 
in bright relief. Possibly Ps. xx. was sung on going forth to 
war, Ps. xxi. on the king's birthday (Ewald). Ps. xlv. is, 
in any case, a song extolling the ruler on the day of his 
marriage with a king's daughter, who is led to him in festal 
procession. What prince is here celebrated cannot be made out 
with certainty. But the prophetic style of the hymn and its 
reception into the Canon perhaps requires us to think of a Davidite. 1 

1 This against Hitzig, who would refer the psalm to the marriage of Ahah with 
Jezebel, and de Wette, who would refer it to a Persian king, as well as against Ewald, 
who suggests Jeroboam II. Ewald's inference from ver. 8, that the kingdom must 
have been an elective kingdom, where the king was merely the first among equals, 
is completely refuted by ver. 17. Since the fathers of the king reigned previously, 


Since "iJrna (joined with vav) cannot be an address, it is not 
said that the bride was Tyrian (so Hupfeld, who supposes a 
daughter of Hiram, of whose union with Solomon history says 
nothing). The entry of the well-known Egyptian consort of 
Solomon might be the subject of the song, whose reference to 
the Solomonic kingdom there is much to favour, if ver. 17 did 
not presuppose a line of reigning ancestors of the king which 
does not suit Solomon. Delitzsch regards the marriage of Joram 
of Judah with Athaliah of Israel as the occasion of the song. 1 
In this case the exhortation to the queen to forget her 
people and father's house would get all the deeper signifi- 
cance ; the pious marriage-wishes were, of course, not fulfilled ; 
the hortatory praises 2 addressed to the king and queen were not 
laid to heart. 

The near relation to God implied in Ps. xlv. 6 a Messianic 
echo of the prophetic sayings considered in the last sections 
should be observed. Still in ver. 6 the personage celebrated is 
addressed directly as D'nhtj which is not a forbidden apotheosis, 
only because in virtue of his dignity he stands in God's place. 
Even the judges of the people of Israel represented God ; to 
come before the judge is to come before God. 3 But here more 
is affirmed. It is said : 

" Thy throne, God, endures for ever and ever ; a sceptre 
of straightness is the sceptre of Thy rule." 

Here a certain identity with the Deity is ascribed not merely 
to the actual bearer of the office, but to the person of the king, or 
to his house, his dynasty, so that it will rule for ever (like God) ; 
cf. vers. 16 1, 2. As this rule, in virtue of its divine character, 
far exceeds all other earthly powers in age, so its splendour is 
immeasurably extended in space. The nations cannot with- 
stand this glorious prince (ver. 5) ; foreign kings seek his favour 

the divine anointing with the oil of delight, distinguishing the king from his 
companions, cannot be the call to the regal office, but refers to the salvation and 
prosperity with which God distinguished him above his fellow-rulers. 

1 See the reasons in his Commentary. 

2 Cf. the Egyptian custom of exhorting kings by daily eulogistic intercessions for 

3 Ex. xxi. 6, xxii. 8, 9, 28 ; cf. Ps. Ixxxii. 1 ff., where even unjust judges are 
solemnly so named by the Lord (ver. 6). Jesus adduced this passage (ver. 6) to the 
Jews to prove that His claim to divine Sonship was no blasphemy, since He could 
boast of Deity with far more right than they to whom it was ascribed in a certain 
sense in the law (in Holy Writ). 


and send to him their daughters (ver. 9) ; the treasures of the 
richest cities are offered to him and to his consort (ver. 13), who 
will gladly exchange the glory of her native court for the higher 
glory of David's. The sons will rule as gloriously as their pre- 
decessors, and as sub-kings will represent everywhere on earth 
the majesty of the house until they come to reign, ver. 16. 
This at all events supposes a vast enlargement of the modest 
Israelitish domain ; for, limited to Israelitish territory, especially 
when divided, the pKn~?33 Dnb> would be ridiculous. Even in 
adverse days the Davidic king makes lofty claims (Ps. lx.). 
Moreover, looking at Ps. ii., viii., and Ixxii. 11, these boundless 
hopes of glory in the future are by no means unwarranted. But, 
of course, they can only be understood on the supposition that to 
the singer's consciousness the kingdom celebrated had a glory 
superior to every earthly power. Thus a brilliant epoch in the 
history of the Davidic house was sung ; the after-world has 
referred this song of a king surrounded with god-like doxa to the 
future ruler on David's throne, who would be warranted in 
claiming Deity with greater right (cf. Isa. ix. 5). 

Ps. Ixviii., the great hymn of war and triumph, which sees- 
in Israel's contests against the hostile kingdoms of the world the 
Parousia of God, as on Sinai and in Deborah's conflict, a sort 
of expansion of Ps. ex., owed its origin to a solemn moment 
of another kind. The uncertainty of its date has become a 
proverb. 1 But whether it originated under David or later, it 
has found a well-merited place in the psalm-book for all time, 
as a testimony to God's victorious kingdom in Israel, which 
out of Zion made all nations feel its greatness. 

The development of concrete Messianic glory culminates in a 
psalm bearing Solomon's name (Ps. Ixxii.). In it the Church 
speaks, not the ruler himself. If, then, we wish to retain the 
Solomonic authorship in accordance with the heading, we must 
suppose that the wise, poetic (1 Kings v. 12) king, at the 
beginning of his reign so full of promise, 2 put this prayer into 
the mouth of the people. At all events the character of the song 
throughout suits Solomon's days and person. Whereas the 

1 Cf. E. Reuss, Der achtundsechzigste Psalm, ein Denkmal exegetischer Noth und 
Kunst zu Ehren umtrer ganzen Zunft, Jena 1851. 

See prayers composed at the installation of a pre-Solomonic ruler of China in 
the Schi-king (translated by V. v. Strauss), p. 483- 489. 


Davidic psalms, ex., xviii., Ixviii., ii., etc., have to tell of conflict 
and victory over menacing hostile powers, it is a broad kingdom 
of untroubled peace that floats as an ideal before this ruler. 
Instead of martial valour, his most brilliant virtue is the justice 
which gladly succours the just and defenceless (cf. 1 Kings iii. 
5 ff., 16 ff.). The blessing of such peaceful government falls on 
the land like God's fertilizing rain (2 Sam. xxiii. 4). To this 
peaceful ruler spontaneous homage is done by Tarshish and the 
isles of the West, brought near to Solomon by his alliance with 
the Phoenicians ; and in the same way by the kings of Sheba and 
Seba, with whom he is allied by trade, on the south (Ophir, 
1 Kings ix. 28, x. 22), as well as by literary commerce (x. 1 ff.). 
Thus the divine blessings in nature join with the tribute 
(gold, ver. 15 ; cf. 1 Kings x. 10) brought by the farthest nations 
to make his land the most fortunate in the world. But the 
king's best reward is found in the intercessions of his subjects, 
who owe their being and well-being to his justice and gentle- 
ness. 1 His fame brightens as long as the sun shines and the 
moon endures. 2 In his name all nations bless themselves 
(with ver. 17, cf. Gen. xxii. 18, xxvi. 4 ; p. 107, ante), so that in a 
special sense he will be the heir of the supreme patriarchal 
promise ! 

" May his name endure for ever as long as the sun shines 

may his name put forth shoots ; 

And let them bless themselves in him all nations call him 


This, too, Solomon was permitted to experience in a certain 
measure (1 Kings x. 9, 24 f., v. 14). But no doubt even his 
kingdom remained in extent and glory far behind what this 
psalm wishes him as the heritage belonging to God's anointed. 

Ver. 15 : " And so he (the one delivered) will remain alive and offer to him what is 
better than Saba-gold, and make intercession for him continually, bless him at every 
opportunity. " This strangely misunderstood verse is plain enough, directly the j in 
2!"!ttD is taken as the comparative, in which sense it also elsewhere stands before 
nouns expressing specially a pre-eminent quality. 

2 In ver. 5 it is disputed whether God is addressed (so e.g. Calvin, Delitzsch) or 
the king (e.g. Hupfeld, Hitzig) ; but the latter answers better to the context. Thus 
the Messianic character of the king appears, owing to which he remains to all 
generations an object of grateful reverence. Qy (Dan. iii. 33) and ^3*5 (cf. ver. 7) 

are temporal, not: as far as the sun shine*. In ver. 17 the imperishable is more 
definitely separated from the mortal personality of the king. 


After the rapid decline of Solomonic glory this psalm also was 
regarded, with complete justice, as a prophecy awaiting its 

Here, too, is the place to mention the Song of Solomon, which, 
according to our opinion explained elsewhere, 1 celebrates origin- 
ally the noblest, purest love of this king, but on account of 
Solomon's Messianic dignity was soon understood of the most 
sacred love with which the Lord woos His Church, and of which 
the prophets, especially Hosea, had spoken so gloriously. 
Little as the view of the synagogue and early Church, according 
to which this poem originated in allegorical intent, corresponds to 
its vivid, natural freshness, still the reference to the loving rela- 
tion between the Lord and His Church is so far justified in that, 
according to unvarying prophetic and apostolic teaching, pure 
bridal love is an image of God's love, and Solomon is a type of 
the greater Messiah. Of this conception also the true Son of 
David brought the consummation, exhibiting the most profound 
condescension on the part of the heavenly King, and establishing 
the most intimate and living fellowship with His Church on 
earth. As, therefore, the marriage-song Ps. xlv. points typically 
to the completion of God's kingdom, so often set forth in the New 
Testament as a marriage-solemnity, so also is it with this song, 
which chants the Messianic king and his peerless bride, and 
illustrates still more strongly the tender love binding the two 
together, bridal love with its longing and hoping, seeking and 
finding, the chaste affection which as a divine flame brooks 
nothing impure, and ignores all earthly disparity. 

Among the typical songs we have to name in the second line 
the Passion-psalms. In keeping with God's wondrous redeeming 
plan it was typical of the Messiah in high degree that David 
rose to glory only through the heaviest persecutions, and was 
forced during the course of his eventful life to drink the cup of 
affliction to the dregs. Of the sufferings he had to undergo in 
his persecution by Saul and by Absalom a series of unimpeach- 
able psalms speaks. Many early Christian expositors thought 
that David is not here always singing of his own sufferings, but 
occasionally of those of the future Messiah. But these songs 
spring so plainly from personal experience of affliction, that the 

1 Herzog's Real-EncyL, 2nd ed. vi. 245 ff., especially p. 249. In this we follow 
Delitzsch, Comm. 


view which makes the poet transport himself into another's soul 
is altogether excluded by the directness of feeling exhibited. 
David sings of suffering and sorrow, anguish and distress, actually 
experienced. Out of woe and peril he struggles upward in 
prayer to God. But this suffering saint, familiar with the Lord 
like none else on earth, and yet so beset by heavy affliction, was 
intended to set forth beforehand a divine decree, which was only 
to be completely realized in the perfectly Just One, who endured 
the hardest treatment. No conscious reference to the future lies 
in these songs, so far as they complain of suffering ; they are 
all but without the prophetic stamp, which cannot be mis- 
taken in Ps. ex., ii., etc. ; but in the objective divine plan 
certainly there is a connection between the imperfect types in 
which the divine purpose is barely hinted and the complete 
image which was yet to appear. Later prophecy (e.g. Deutero- 
Isaiah) then recognised such a connection, took up the features of 
the martyr-image sketched in the psalms, and embodied them in 
its perfect image of the future. But on many points, where the 
language went beyond existing facts, the actual fulfilment brought 
a literal fulfilment. The hyperbolical character adhering to the 
suffering of the Old Testament saint was to become fact. 

In this class of psalms their prophetic significance does not 
essentially depend on the question whether they originate with 
David himself, or with a later heir of his crown, or issued 
from the Church. The divine idea of the suffering saint might 
also be exhibited beforehand in another; as in fact Job and 
Jeremiah, although no Davidites, were typical of Christ's suffer- 
ings, and were so used by Deutero-Isaiah. But in any case it 
was of essential significance that the same David, who in the unique 
consciousness of his divine kingship could boast of a relation to 
God inconceivably close, was also obliged, beyond every one 
else of his age and nation, to complain of unmerited, malignant 
suffering. In his person we see united the two figures which 
to later Jewish thought fell apart in dualistic fashion -the 
image of the glorious king and the image of the mysterious martyr. 

That David's troubles and persecutions gave rise to psalms, in 
which he poured out his inner misery before God, and at the same 
time fought his way to firm trust in the answering, delivering 
God, is also proved by the fact that later songs of this kind were 
referred to David, the bold suppliant in distress. By way of 


example we name as psalms which undoubtedly spring from him, 
and show how in bitter assaults from men he was conscious of 
his close relation to God, Ps. iii., iv., vl, vii., xi. xvii., cf. the 
opening of Ps. xviii. Ps. xli. we also assign to this class, and 
indeed to the time when Absalom's rebellion and the treachery of 
his best friend pressed heavily on the king suffering from sick- 
ness. That it is a person politically powerful, a king, who in 
these circumstances comforts himself with his God, is clear 
from vers. 5, 7, 10. How typical this sharp anguish was 
of the greatest Sufferer, the latter himself emphasizes, John 
xiii. 18 : 'iva r) ypa<f>r) 7r\rjpa)6f)' 'O rparywv fier e/zou rov aprov 
eTrfjpev eV e/*e rrjv irrepvav avrov. Of course David is depicting 
his own experience : Ahithophel, whose counsel was to him like 
God's oracle, has basely betrayed him and secretly made common 
cause with the foe, as he well sees. Yet it is not a perfect saint 
who prays this psalm. Despite the confession of sin in ver. 5, 
he is hated without right and reason ; in the last resort he is so 
attacked on account of his piety ; compare the declaration of his 
innocence, ver. 12. For this reason his suffering is typical. And 
the bitter experience of faithless betrayal by a trusted favourite 
could not be wanting in the cup of Him in whom the full measure 
of sacred endurance for God's sake was to be seen. This feature 
is also found in the suffering image of other Old Testament 
saints ; so Ps. Iv. (vers. 12-14, 20 f.), which we do not regard as 
Davidic (see ver. 14). 

Because it was David who in deepest tribulation first struck 
his harp in such a way that its tones became prophetic beyond 
his dreaming and understanding, men thought they heard his 
voice in kindred songs of other devout, sorely-tried suppliants, 
and sought in his life for occasions which might have given rise 
to particular songs. In the case of Ps. liv., Ivi., Ivii., lix., indeed, 
no valid objection can be raised against the view that they 
originate, as the inscriptions state, in the days of Saul's persecu- 
tion. On the other hand, the Davidic origin of Ps. Iii. (cf. ver. 10), 
despite a similar statement, is very unlikely. 

Ps. xxii., the most notable of the Passion-psalms, is scarcely 

by David himself, as the inscription states and Delitzsch tries to 

prove. But the author was an eminent leader of the theocratic 

Church. 1 At present he seems banished or rather a prisoner, utterly 

1 Hitzig suggests Jeremiah. 


helpless, given over to hate and scorn. This undeserved suffering, 
having its ground essentially in the suppliant's close relation to 
God (ver. 8), at last humbles him to the lowest point. He feels 
himself no longer a man, merely a worm (ver. 6). Even if, like 
Delitzsch,we call to mind the time of severest affliction which David 
passed through (1 Sam. xxiv. 15, xxvi. 20), and at the same time 
take into account David's sensitive temperament, which felt enmity 
and affliction in keenest measure, no adequate reason for the 
special wails of the psalm readily offers itself. At the time of 
Saul's persecution David was no broken man, such as the sup- 
pliant of the psalm seems to be. Thus we have to suppose a 
saint perhaps of the next age, who experienced suffering in the 
severest degree. In him David's sufferings appear in aggravated 
form, and just so the consciousness of martyrdom, i.e. of a good 
confession as the reason of the hostility of men. 

He begins at once with the memorable words : " My God, my 
God, why hast Thou forsaken me ? " in which a strong contradic- 
tion is evident between the devotion of one who can call God Ms 
God and his fate, which is that of one forsaken by God. As is 
well known, Jesus on the cross made this saying His own, 1 
intimating that this intrinsic contradiction was realized in Him 
in highest measure Him, the Son of God, abandoned by God to 
the most ignominious of deaths ! If the Psalmist could only 
address God as his in a limited sense, our Lord could do this 
with fullest justice. And what the former complains of in mere 
figurative, though highly-coloured terms, befell the Son of God 
in veritable fact. This applies to several statements in the 
psalm, which are not to be pressed literally, but were literally 
fulfilled in Christ. Herein we see the objective connection 
established of set purpose by God's Providence, which so framed 
even the phrasing of the pious prayer that without know- 
ledge of the suppliant it became prophecy, and again so controlled 
even what was outward, and seemingly accidental, in the history 
of Jesus, that the old prophetic oracles appear incorporated in it. 

As ver. 1 furnished the words in which the Lord in His mortal 
agony gave expression to His feeling of deepest dismay, so ver. 6 ff. 
seem to describe the situation and surroundings of the Crucified. 

1 Mark xv. 34 ; Matt, xxvii. 46, the latter of which gives the old Hebrew word- 
ing, the former the Aramaic, Palestinian country-speech, in which the prayer ou the 
cross was uttered. 


With ver. 7 cf. Mark xv. 29 ; with ver. 8, Matt, xxvii. 43 ; with 
vers. 1315, the exposure of the worn, anguished sufferer, especially 
John xix. 28. In ver. 16 the reading is uncertain. 1 But the 
Masoretic reading ^xa is utterly impracticable despite ver. 21, 
and perhaps arose out of the latter. Hence, apart from all 
dogmatic prepossession, which Hupfeld holds alone capable of 
taking our view, the verbal 11K3 of the versions is preferable, 
which afterwards ceased perhaps to be understood, "ixa = 112, 
to dig, dig through. It seems to refer to the ill-treatment of a 
prisoner who, robbed of his clothes, and nailed fast by hands and 
feet, is abandoned to the derision of the rabble surrounding him. 
That the suppliant literally suffered this extreme outrage, is per- 
haps not to be supposed ; his animal metaphors also show that 
he paints his desperate situation in drastic colours. But all 
these features were to find their realization in the martyr-form 
on Golgotha the exposure of the victim, the painful nailing of 
hands and feet, His nakedness, 2 the division of His garments and 
casting lots for His cloak (Matt, xxvii. 35 ; cf. Mark xv. 24; 
Luke xxiii. 35 ; John xix. 24). The oracle is one of those which 
were fulfilled even in the seemingly accidental form of the 
Hebrew parallelism, where one member differs scarcely per- 
ceptibly from the other, as the fourth Gospel especially points 
out, where also Ps. xxii. 18 is expressly quoted. 

From ver. 22 onwards the urgent prayer, to which the previous 
complaints lead up, passes into confident praise of the delivering 
grace which the suppliant is confident of experiencing. But the 
manner in which he describes the public thanksgiving for his 
deliverance is no less noteworthy than the picture of his sufferings. 
Not only will he, like a David, Hezekiah, and other pious kings, 
pay his thank-offering before all the people, so that they who fear 
God may enjoy this sacramental feast ; the conclusion of the song, 
vers. 27-31, speaks even of the heathen coming from the ends 
of the earth and worshipping the Lord ; " for the kingdom is the 
Lord's, and He will rule among the heathen" (ver. 28). Nay, 
it seems that the deliverance of this sufferer and his praise of 

1 The Hebrew MSS. almost without exception give ^1X3, n t Y1X3- The LXX., 
on the other hand, have pv%*,, and therefore read VlfcO ; just so Syr. Vulg. 
Jerome. See particulars in the commentaries of Hupfeld and Delitzsch. 

s Ver. 17 a seems, on account of ver. 176, to apply to this feature, which does not 
preclude the "counting of the bones" being at the same time a sign of emaciation 
in consequence of great anguish. 


the Lord will bring about this conversion; cf. ^r., ver. 27, to 
which W>nn is to be supplied. As he invites his own brethren, 
in accordance with his vow, to a great sacrificial feast, so too he 
expects the heathen there as guests. 

As, then, the beginning and middle of the psalm are typical, 
so the conclusion is prophetic. And it is just the prophetic 
conclusion which proves that we have before us here, not an 
imaginary type, but one that is the work of the Spirit. The 
suppliant was an intelligent leader of the Church ; his prayer 
ends with an oracle of prophetic illumination ; thus even in his 
bitter complaints he was directed by a higher Spirit, and not 
unworthy to be a prophetic type of Him who by His unique 
martyrdom founded the kingdom of God over the world. 

Presumably Ps. xl. springs from the same author l as Ps. xxii. 
It also has the appearance of being a prayer of an eminent 
saint of the Church, perhaps a king ; and stands related to the 
previous song of complaint and prayer as a grateful response 
after deliverance from the greatest distress and danger. 2 

Pondering, then, what thank-offering is most acceptable to God, 
the lofty suppliant comes to see that all words of gratitude are 
too little to praise the Lord's wondrous grace (ver. 6), while no 
sacrifices can really satisfy God. The only true, God-pleasing 
sacrifice is the surrender of one's own person in complete obedience 
to God's will revealed in word and writing. 

Ver. 6 ff. : 

" In slain-offering and dedicated gift Thou hast no pleasure 
my ears Thou hast digged ! 

Burnt-offering and sin-offering Thou requirest not then I 
said : Behold, I am ready in the roll 
of the book it is written concerning me ! 

I delight to perform what pleases Thee and Thy law is in 
my inmost heart." 

The sentence " my ears hast Thou digged " is not introductory 
to a disclosure afterwards made to him by God, but in contrast 
with what precedes : God prefers an obedient servant who 
listens to His voice, to one who brings many offerings. Just 
so ver. 7 is to be explained as an expression of complete readi- 

1 Cf. especially 31 ^np2, xxii. 25, and xl. 9 f., as well as in the related Ps. 
xxxv. 18. 

2 Cf. xl. 3, 9 f., with xxii. 22, 25. 



ness to observe the divine law. To take this also, \vith Hupfeld, 
as merely introductory to the public praise of the Lord, as if all 
obedience consisted in this, does not agree with the emphasis of 
the words in ver. 8 ; although, certainly, according to Ps. Ixix. 3 f., 
public thanksgiving is the best sacrifice, and the most pleasing 
to God. Against this view ver. 9 f. also tells, speaking as they 
do plainly of the past. Thus "w *0 K ?" n H i ? '$ T ? applies to 
the writer's resolve to place himself, his own person, completely at 
God's disposal. As the servant, when his lord calls him, says ^an 
(1 Sam. iii. 4), so here the delivered saint : " Lo, I am come to do 
what Thou wishest." How he knows the Lord's wish the further 
sentence tells : " In the book-roll it is written concerning me ; 
there it is prescribed to me what I have to do " (2 Kings xxii. 13). 
For the rest, this sentence gives the impression that it is an 
eminent personage who speaks thus (which is already evident 
from ver. 3), nay, one of whom the book of the divine law 
specifically treats. It is a king, so we must conclude, one 
whose conduct was there specially described, not merely in " the 
law of the king" (Deut. xvii. 14 ff.), but in all that is said in 
the Torah respecting government and judgment. Ps. li. 17 
would naturally suggest David himself, 1 where the latter has 
spoken in similar terms of the value of sacrifice, in exact corre- 
spondence with the great principle uttered by his paternal 
friend Samuel, 1 Sam. xv. 22 f., according to which obedience is 
better than sacrifice. We shall, however, see presently in the 
case of Ps. Ixix. that it is rather a later confessor, jealous for 
his Lord's honour, who sung these songs. Moreover, the anti- 
thesis between sacrifice and obedience is not an absolute 
one, as if God had no pleasure at all in sacrifice, and in no 
case required it. On the contrary, the harsh form of the con- 
trast is to be explained by the Shemitic idiom, which prefers 
absolute to relative modes of expression. In 1 Sam. xv. 22 is 
found the relative mode of speech, which explains the present 
passage. 2 

Although the worst danger is escaped for the time, the devout 
suppliant is by no means out of all danger. On the contrary, 
the conclusion of ver. 12 shows that much still threatens him, 
against which he would fain assure himself of the Lord's abiding 

1 So most recently, Bredenkamp, Oesetz und Propheten, p. 69 ff. 

2 Cf. Marti in the Jena Jahrb. f. protest. Theoloyie, 1880, p. 309 ff. 


help. The psalm which had begun with the thanksgiving of one 
delivered, concludes with request for further protection. But we 
should be just as little warranted in cutting it in two on this 
account as in the case of Ps. xxii., where the certainty of being 
heard turns complaint into joyous thanksgiving. 

If, then, Ps. xl., rightly understood, forms an unquestionable 
unity, of course we have no right to refer the passage quoted 
above (ver. 6 ff.) to any other subject than the one who every- 
where else in the psalm describes his painful and elevating 
experiences, and in ver. 13 confesses that his afflictions are not 
undeserved. The speaker everywhere is a saint, closely united 
indeed with God, yet humanly imperfect. When the Epistle to 
the Hebrews applies Ps. xl. 6 ff. to Christ, this is only right, 
because such an one might, of course, be a type of Jesus, even if 
he was not David himself. Especially the passage in which he 
describes his full surrender to obey the Lord as the true sacrifice, 
makes him well adapted to serve as a type of the obedient Sufferer, 
who came to fulfil the whole law implanted deeply within Him, 
and into whose mouth therefore, as into no other's, these words 
might be put, as is done in Heb. x. 5 ff., " on his entrance into 
the world." l 

In a line with Ps. xxii. and xl. stands Ps. Ixix., which, 
like Ps. xl. especially, refers to the person of the suppliant, and 
touches on the circumstances of his suffering, the tenor of his 
thoughts, and his mode of expressing his feelings. Here the cause 
of his sufferings and their nature come out still more plainly. 
It is fidelity to God, zeal for the house of the Lord, that has 
drawn on the sufferer the bitter hate of many foes, and estranged 
his neighbours from him (vers. 6, 7 ff.). 2 His mourning for the 
decline of godliness has exposed him to the grossest mockery 
(ver. 10 f.). His suffering, therefore, is that of a stedfast con- 
fessor who, although not free from wandering and sin in God's 

1 The citation is marked by exact adherence to the LXX., even where the LXX. 
deviate from the Hebrew text. Instead of "iny ears hast Thou digged," the Epistle 
to the Hebrews puts the more general nupa. 1\ xarvpTiiru p./>t, which acquires a special 
sense in its context. So its author read in the LXX. , who did not understand the 
Hebrew phrase, and found it too hard. Hence they generalized it, referring it to 
the forming of man's body in general. Hupfeld, de Wette, Bleek take a different 
view. They think that a clerical error 2fiMA, instead of 2 nxiA, crept in. But 
the KXTripTi/fu, which is also a generalization, tells against this view. 

* Ver. 9 : " Zeal for Thy house consumed me, and the revilings of those who 
reviled Thee are fallen upon me ! " Cf. John ii. 17. 


sight (ver. 5), is yet unjustly * persecuted by men for his piety 
and stedfast testimony. They have no sympathy with him, but 
unmercifully aggravate his torments. " And they offered me 
poison for my food, and for my thirst gave me vinegar to drink " 
(ver. 21). Still he does not despair, but, as one who waits for 
his God (ver. 3 ; Ps. xxii. 1), builds on the help of the Lord, and 
in spirit sees himself again exalted ; whereupon he intends to 
glorify God's name in song, which is an offering more acceptable 
to God than high-horned bullocks (cf. Ps. xl.). That it is David 
who so prays, as the inscription says, is not directly confirmed 
in the psalm. For David could not well speak according to the 
terms of vers. 8, 9 ; ver. 33 also implies an actual imprison- 
ment. This may also be decisive against the Davidic authorship 
of Ps. xl. and xxii. On the other hand, the author must, as is 
true too of Ps. xxxii. and xl., be a conspicuous member, if not 
the head, of the believing Church (Ixix. 6, 32). 3 

On p. 167 we have described even the personal relation of 
David in his capacity as a devout believer, apart from the high 
position assigned him by God and the humiliation and trial 
through which the Lord led him, as possessing a typical character 
which was to be consummated in David's greater Son. This 
relation between God and the soul inseparably one with Him 
and happy in Him, certainly finds expression often enough in 
the lofty regal songs that sing of the Messiah's dignity; in a 
remarkable way, with special intensity and vigour, it is expressed 
in the Passion-psalms of David and his like-minded companions 
in suffering of a later day. But along with these the songs are 
significant, in which David bears testimony, more as a man than 
as a king, to his salvation in God, without such testimony being 
wrung from him by distress and tribulation. A glorious example 
of this kind is Ps. xvi., in which David commends the happy lot 
that has fallen to him, the blessedness of which consists, not in 
any earthly greatness or outward fortune, but in fellowship with 

1 The citation John xv. 25, l/n!<rnf pi S^iav, refers to ver. 4 ; the saying is also 
found in the similar psalm, xxxv. 19. 

* Cf. John xix. 28 ff. ; Matt, xxvii. 34, 48 ; Mark xv. 23, 36 ; Luke xxiii. 36. 

3 Several features suit the imprisoned Jeremiah (Hitzig), as in Ps. xxii., xl. 
Vers. 2, 14 (cf. xl. 2) might be an allusion to the miry pit in which he was 
imprisoned (Jer. xxxviii. 6), but no inference can be drawn from this. Vers. 12 and 
22 do not agree with the position of Jerusalem then, nor ver. 26 with Jeremiah's 


Yahveh. It is not a cry for deliverance from special affliction, 
but a prayer for preservation from such evil as may befall any 
mortal. In the Lord he knows himself safe from this, even 
from the danger of death, Ps. xvi. 8-11 : 

" I have set Yahveh ever before me ; for at my right hand 

(He stands) ; I shall not totter ! 
On this account my heart rejoices and my glory exults my 

flesh also dwells in security. 
For Thou wilt not abandon my soul to the underworld nor 

give up Thy saints to see the pit. 
Thou wilt make known to me the way of life fulness of 

joy is before Thy face blessednesses 

in Thy right hand for ever." 

It is true, the New Testament may easily lead to our reading 
something more definite in this testimony than it originally 
affirms. A prophecy of the resurrection of Christ, who " cannot 
see corruption," uttered expressis verbis, is obtained at best on 
the scarcely tenable assumption of the LXX., that nnp here 
denotes corruption, 1 and that the keri TT 1 ?!!! 1 (sing.) is to be pre- 
ferred ; even then a resurrection from the grave would not 
necessarily be spoken of, but rescue from the state of death 
generally. But, on the other hand, to find in the passage merely 
the hope of long life does not do justice to the words. Observe 
the categorical form : " Thou wilt not 2 forsake my soul, that it 
should fall victim to the underworld ; Tliou wilt not give up Thy 
saints, so that they should see the pit." Would it be doing justice 
to these words to make them mean : The good shall live longer 
than others ? Is it not said directly : They shall not fall a 
prey to the underworld, shall not see the pit ? It is a word of 
bold faith that we have here, as in Ps. Ixxiii. 23 ff. In closest 
fellowship with God, 3 David is conscious of triumph over the 
grave and death. For whoever is inseparably one with the 
Most High, over him death has no power. With the Lord he 
ever finds life and bliss. How the Lord will preserve His 
familiar friend from the power of death and grant him eternal 

1 So certainly Bottcher, Ausf. Lehrbuch, i. p. 419, who distinguishes this 
as masc. from the fern, coming from niB> an( i attributes to it the meaning 
" corruption, destruction." The fl would then be radical. 

' 2 $, not ^K> is used. 

3 Cf. Hupfeld on Ps. xvi. 10. 


life is not declared ; this does not trouble one united with God 
and joyfully certain of his heritage. In another psalm (xlix. 15) 
the same confidence appears in a more definite form : God will 
rescue the pious one, even him who in appearance falls a prey 
to the underworld, from its power, and prepare for him another 
dwelling. Ps. xvi. 10 f. gives no indication of the mode in 
which God will save His people from the bitterness of death. 
Put that He will do it the singer is certain from his intercourse 
with the living God. For one who has chosen God for his 
portion to fall a prey to the world of shades (observe the ^ 
in /KB?) and taste the destruction of the grave (nntr n ^), would 
be an impossible abandonment on God's part (3TV), an act of 
forsaking (103) irreconcilable with God's faithfulness. 

As certainly, then, as Jesus is the Christ, of whom David, the 
Messiah of his age, was the inadequate type, as certainly as the 
ruling feature of this psalm heartfelt union between God and 
the soul of one whom God has chosen and who has chosen God 
was perfectly realized in Jesus, so certainly must the conquest 
of death and the grave attain complete realization in Him. The 
passage is one of those, even apart from its quotation in the 
Acts, which would convince any one enlightened by God's Spirit 
of the intrinsic necessity of Christ's resurrection, and by which 
the Lord proved the resurrection to His disciples. A fuller 
examination of the passage is found in the Pentecost-discourse 
of Peter (Acts ii. 25 ff.) and in the synagogue-discourse of Paul 
at Antioch (xiii. 34 ff.). It is evident from these two citations 
that the passage was a principal authority in the proof of Jesus' 
Messiahship before Israel itish hearers. And according to what has 
just been said, rightly. The variation of wording in the LXX., 
suggesting a still more definite reference to the resurrection 
(from the grave) on the third day, is a secondary matter ; the 
argument of the apostles by no means stands or falls with it ; 
apart from this point, they are quite in the right when they 
mention the imperfection of David, seen in the fact that he died 
and was buried, whereas according to David's own words the 
perfectly Just One should not be given up to the underworld. It 
is just as pertinent when they point out Christ as the one who 
verified the saying of David. And Peter's description of the 
saying of the Israelitish king as prophetic, as spoken in foresight of 
the true Messiah and His resurrection, is well justified by ii. 30, 


God's standing in so intimate a relation to David was a 
preparation for the far more intimate one of David's Son ; what 
David beheld in moments of elevated devotion was a foresight 
of what God would afterwards reveal of His grace and truth. 
Thus this psalm-word was prophetic, awaiting a future fulfil- 
ment of unimagined glory, even if the suppliant was not aware 
that another only instead of himself would enjoy perfect religious 
fellowship, and prove it by perfect conquest over death. 

If we look back on the typical psalms, their common mark is, 
that the reference to another person than that of the suppliant 
is not present in the latter's consciousness. They treat of the 
Messiah not expressly but implicitly, so far as in the singers, or 
in those sung of, the future Messiahship has already acquired life 
and provisional shape in its different aspects. True, the specific- 
ally prophetic cannot be entirely severed from the typical element, 
inasmuch as these songs not seldom speak consciously of things 
which will only obtain perfect shape in the future. Moreover, 
even in 0. T. days these psalms had a history. The more 
that experience showed the human fragility of the typical 
Messiahship, the more loudly and definitely that the prophets 
spoke of a future perfect shaping of the divine ideas, so much 
the more certainly must these announcements have seemed 
prophetic to the typical representatives of these ideas ; the super- 
abundant import detached itself from their persons, and found its 
unity and the security for its realization in the person of the 
Messiah expected in the future. Schultz calls this transforming 
of the typical into the prophetic a fruit of the Church's thought. 1 
Xo doubt it was still more a fruit of the prophets' thought. But 
the main question is, whether this reference of the testimonies 
of the suppliants to the future was predominantly subjective 
or was thoroughly justified on objective grounds ; in other words, 
whether the ideal blessings that became afterwards the possession 
of the Church were arbitrarily clothed in past forms, imported 
into the old sayings, or whether those types and their utterances 

1 Stud, und Krit. 1866, p. 42, Ueber doppellen Schriftsinn. This title is mis- 
leading, since it suggests the notion of a second sense superposed without organic 
connection ; whereas the prophetic sense grows organically out of the historico- 
psychological one, its germ lying already in the latter. For the rest, even the 
author acknowledges (p. 12) an inner relation, an essential affinity between the 
import of such psalms and what happened to Christ ; in such a way, indeed, that the 
words gained their full sense and import, their deepest significance, first in Christ. 


were meant by the will of the Spirit, whose work they were, to 
point to the perfect future. Only one who knows the livin- 
Spirit of God that, raised above human consciousness, controls 
human existence, thinking and speaking, and designedly moulds 
them into one vast system only he will recognise prophecy in 
these songs of a David, Solomon, Jeremiah, as Christ and the 
apostles did. Moreover, only this view of history can lay claim to 
the name of Christian. 

With Ps. xvi. a saying of the Chokma, prophetic in a certain 
sense, may be combined. We mean Job xix. 25-27. As in 
that song the popular conception of a state bordering on non- 
existence in the kingdom of the dead is transcended by the con- 
sciousness of blessed fellowship with God, so here that negative 
theory of a deeply unfortunate man is seen to be vanquished by 
the certainty that an adjustment of the contradictions of this 
life must ensue after death. 

" But I am certain that my Eedeemer is living, and as 
Afterman (Nachmann) He will arise upon the dust. 1 And 
after my skin which is there destroyed, 2 and free from my 
flesh shall I behold Eloah, whom I shall behold for my good, 
and my eyes shall see Him, not another's." 3 

As modern philosophy (Kant's Kritik dcr praktischen Ver- 
nunft} asserted immortality as a postulate of justice, so the 
Israelitish Chokma, from its knowledge of the living God, came to 
postulate an adjustment after death of the moral contradiction found 
in the temporal destinies of men. Such a case is that of the 
unutterably afflicted, pious Job, who is falling victim to death 
apparently without remedy, misunderstood and condemned for 
his misfortune even by his friends. He knows the just God too 
well not to be sure that his innocence and upright disposition 
towards God will come to light after death, if not before, and 

1 God Himself arises as ^3, Vindicator and Afterman, upon the dust, under which 
the one unjustly condemned lies buried. Qip> in the Kal cannot signify raising up, 
but intimates the new vital power arising on the scene of death. 

2 "inSi not of place : behind, but time : after my skin. This requires fuller 
explanation, which is given in JINPlDi-tf- "H^SD must be parallel with this ; 
therefore not : out of my flesh (recovered or risen again), but free from it. 

3 Others explain : not as a stranger, but as a friend shall I behold God. But *yy 

requires the antithesis above. He himself will enjoy the satisfaction of seeing God 
as his avenger and vindicator ; not merely will others be forced to see God's revela- 
tion in Job's favour. 


indeed in such a way that he himself will be present in personal 
vitality. We see here how the certainty of a life after death is 
born out of painful conflict. What in xiv. 13 ff. was mere longing 
desire, in xvi. 18 took the shape of bold demand, and in xix. 25 
has become joyous certainty, namely, that even death cannot 
bury the right. In ver. 23 f., Job wished that his words (i.e. 
the assertions of his good right) were graven in stone, so that he 
might appeal to after ages. But there is no need of this ; he 
has another, higher confidence. Even if he dies, a Goel will 
maintain his right after death. Since xvi. 18 speaks of blood 
innocently shed, in this Goel we have to think first of a blood- 
avenger. Still this expression, like the blood - shedding, is 
figurative. It is his Vindicator, who after death redeems him 
from the unjust ban pressing heavily upon him. This Goel is 
none else than Eloah (xvi. 19), his seeming opponent. Thus he 
has a representative who is living, i.e. not subject to death. 1 
And the satisfaction which God grants him is, that he will 
behold Him after death the God who now hides Himself from 
him and will not suffer him to approach Him. Then the dark 
riddle is solved and the ban broken. The greatest bliss a 
believer can conceive is this beholding of God. 

Grand as is this inward conquest of death through the 
certainty of righteousness in God's sight and fellowship with 
Him, still the passage does not contain a direct Messianic 
prophecy, as has been often thought, the raising of the flesh by 
the Redeemer in the N. T. sense having been- expressly found 
here. 2 The function of the Chokma in general is not the further 
prophetic development of the revelation received, but its applica- 
tion to practical life. But a weighty consequence, which we 
encounter also in prophecy, is here drawn from the knowledge of 
the true God. If, as Job shows, God's truth and justice do not 
find expression in individual life in this world (which constitutes a 
demand for a revelation after death), then prophecy brings the 
certainty that God's glory, which otherwise would lack complete 
manifestation on earth, will be revealed even to the dead. 
And if Job, the pattern saint and also pattern sufferer, mis- 

1 This reminds of the living God, from whom Jesus proves the resurrection of the 
dead, Mark. xii. 26 f. 

? Also Holemann's attempt (Bibelstudien, v. p. 178) to consider Job himself as 
the afterman and Goel rising up on the dust, must be rejected. 


understood by every one, because he seems condemned by God 
Himself, whereas his suffering is martyr-suffering, by which God 
refutes the Accuser if Job was a type of the alone really Sinless 
One, who had to suffer the more in virtue of an obscure but 
blessed decree of God, then in the latter also, who went to death 
unvindicated, the power of the holy, living God will be most 
gloriously revealed, since God could not leave His most faithful 
Servant in the dust of death. Thus the intrinsic necessity of 
the resurrection of Christ follows in point of fact from passages 
like the present one, although it does not speak consciously of the 
resurrection of One to come. The New Testament nowhere 
expressly brings this saying of Job into association with Christ, 
although it may have found its place in a pneumatic " opening 
of the Scriptures," such as is told of in Luke xxiv. 44-46. 

22. The Dwelling of Yahveh on Zion. 

When the God of redemptive history bound Himself to the 
Davidic house by His covenant with it, thus giving His kingdom 
on earth a human and personal centre, His rule on earth at the 
same time gained a local centre. Part of the mission of His 
Anointed One was to build a house to the Lord (2 Sam. vii. 13), 
part of his dignity to be a priest for ever at Jerusalem (Ps. ex. 4). 
It is thereby declared that the gracious presence of God among 
His people, promised to them ever since the making of the Mosaic 
covenant, is to receive an abiding character. The Lord chose 
Zion 1 to be His holy mountain, where the idea of God's Church 
is to acquire full and complete form. 

Ps. xxiv. celebrates the entry of the Lord into the proud 
gates of the citadel of Zion, probably on the transference of the 
ark to the residence of David, 2 Sam. vi. 12 ff. (vers. 7-10), 
and also directs how the people are to behave to the "holy 
mountain" now rising in their midst (vers. 1-6). The two 
halves of the song form a unity. To the dwellers in Jerusalem 
and the neighbourhood it is something new to have Yahveh 

1 The exceedingly frequent mention of Zion as the residence of the Lord is aptly 
explained by the opinion recently come into favour, that by it is meant, not the 
broad south-west hill of Jerusalem, as tradition would have, but the km/it-- 
mountain, so that the rare name Moriah then merely designates the rib of Ziou 
supporting the sanctuary. See my journal, Durch's heilige Land, 1879 (2nd e<l. \ 
p. 91, 98. 


dwelling within their walls ; on this account they are reminded 
of the sacredness of the spot. True, the God who takes up His 
abode here is the Lord of heaven and earth, to whom everything 
belongs that He has made (vers. 1, 2). But He has chosen for 
Himself a hallowed spot, where He desires to be visited by a 
sanctified Church, and to bestow on it special blessing. The 
sanctity He requires is not mere Levitical purity, but purity of 
hands, heart, and lip. After such a Church is gathered on the 
mount of the Lord, Yahveh can make His entry, and the hoary, 
venerable gates are summoned to lift up their heads, even their 
lofty lintels being too low to admit so lofty a Lord, " the King 
of glory," " Yahveh of hosts," so called as God of the heavenly 
legions. 1 

Henceforth, therefore, the Lord of the world has His seat in an 
extraordinary sense on Zion, whence He judges the whole world 
(Ps. ex. 2) and bestows wondrous blessings on His people and 
Church ; on which account Jerusalem is celebrated in so many 
psalms as the city of the great king, i.e. of God. 2 If Sinai was the 
mountain where divine majesty proclaimed amid the terrors of 
God's appearing over the people an inviolable law, Mount Zion, 
on the other hand, represents His gracious presence within His 
Church, a view whose influence is felt in the New Testament 
(Gal. iv. 24-26), the idea of Zion, the city of God, no doubt growing 
more and more spiritual. But we believe we ought, in opposition 
to modern criticism, definitely to assert, that even in the Davidic- 
Solomonic age unique significance was ascribed to the temple on 
this hill, because it was regarded as the dwelling of the God of 
redemption, as David and his successors were regarded as the 
Anointed of Yahveh. Not first in the age of Isaiah did Zion 
rise before the prophetic vision above all mountains, although 
certainly then prophecy asserted its eternal significance with 
special emphasis. Even the pre-Isaianic prophets (Obad. ver. 1 7 ; 
Joel iii. 16 ; Amos i. 2) presuppose this local centre of the 

1 If in the divine name Yahveh Zebaoth the hosts of Israel were meant, the 
latter name would probably be found. Of course Israel may be called "the hosts 
of Yahveh " (Ex. xii. 41), since He is pleased to call Israel His Zebaoth, Ex. 
vii. 4; cf. Ps. xliv. 9=lx. 10, cviii. 11. But it would be too trifling to honour 
God by calling Him God of hosts in the sense : God of our army. The heavenly 
army no doubt as a rule stands in the sing., as in Josh. v. 14 ; but see Ps. ciii. 21 
(cf. 20), where the plural occurs (certainly not with fern, ending). 

2 Cf. Ps. xlvi., xlviii., Ixxxvii. (of which afterwards), xciii., xcvii., xcix., etc. 


theocracy, this starting-point of judgment and salvation ; thus 
confirming the testimony of the Davidic psalms, according to 
which at the same time when He chose David's person and house, 
He was pleased to take up His abode on Zion for ever. Even 
the prophecies which do not speak expressly of the Davidic 
Messiah, but describe God's perfect condescension to His Church 
and His dwelling in it, represent the Lord as throned on Zion. 
The New Testament first strips off this local dress (John iv. 21), 
while verifying the substance of the O. T. Zion-idea in all its 
completeness and purity. 







23. General Character of Prophecy in the Pre-exilian Period. 

WITH the founding of the Davidic monarchy and Solomon's 
temple-building, the divine rule the subject of the 
previous promises had reached a provisional conclusion in its 
course of development. The Messiah, i.e. the reigning monarch 
of David's house, was the ruler representing God upon earth, 
to whom all nations must in time submit, and the high priest 
representing the people before God. God had what He had long 
aimed at : He dwelt in the midst of a people w r hich, according to 
His law and testament, did Him priestly service as His servant 
and also His son. One might now expect that from this point 
prophecy would limit itself to the further developing of this 
divine rule, and therefore merely announce its extension over the 
whole world. This claim of God is grounded in His nature, and 
from the first was intimated in His word as His goal ; it was 
also declared with full consciousness by His Messiah as we saw 
in his psalms. The historically-existing kingdom of God, even 
in its greatest extension under Solomon, was still capable of 
vast local expansion, and in fact such expansion constantly 
appears henceforth in the programme of the prophets. 

But from the first the divine idea of God's kingdom was of far 
too great ethical depth to allow the prophets, flattering the 
national feeling, to direct their gaze to a mere extension and 
perfecting of the empirical divine rule, and to predict a progressive 
enlargement of the existing divine rule and aggrandizement of 
God's people. On the contrary, God's faithful speakers were 
obliged first to rebuke the inner apostasy of Israel from its 
God, and from that time to foretell the dissolution of the present 
form of God's kingdom. Here, too, it is said : " Judgment must 



begin at the house of God" (1 Pet. iv. 17). Nay, it began at 
David's house, distinguished as it was above all the people. 
For how little the existing national kingdom of the Lord 
corresponded to God's will, was shown most glaringly in the 
Messiah Himself king by divine grace. The flash of the 
menacing prophetic word smote David himself, and only by 
immediate and humble submission to that word was he able to 
soften the penalty into one of a temporary character. Solomon, 
whose response to the voice of conscience was persistent obstinacy, 
brought on the revolt of the northern tribes from the house 
of David, which soon saw itself reduced to the one tribe of 
Judah. 1 

This event was of high significance for the development of pro- 
phecy. Not without effect was a prophet obliged to foretell this 
dismemberment, the beginning of the ruin of the kingdom, 
which seemed to contradict every promise and hope. At one 
blow the entire realization of God's great plan seemed to be 
compromised, or at least postponed for a long period. The 
people and its king had shown themselves not only incompetent, 
but unworthy to take the lofty position assigned them by God ; 
and the Lord showed His holy severity, which will not let 
itself be trifled with, least of all by His own people. The 
Lord cannot and will not renounce the lordship which He 
reserved to Himself in His law. Therefore He Himself over- 
turns what He had built up. Nor did this overturning judg- 
ment stop at the dismemberment of the kingdom. In view 
of the still increasing corruption of the people, prophecy fore- 
tells their banishment for centuries, first that of the northern, 
then also of the southern kingdom. We here see how deep-seated 
to the eye of the prophets the evil is ; the entire national life is 
corroded by it, so that the political nationality must first be 
broken utterly to pieces before any healing of Joseph's wound 
can be thought of. Notwithstanding all God's grace and favour, 
the sinful king and people cannot be spared a doom bordering 
on annihilation. 

But God's decree is not frustrated by such guilt. The 

covenant of promise made with Abraham and affirmed to David 

is too firmly based to render a complete and final rejection of 

the people of Israel and the house of David conceivable. The 

1 1 Kings xi. 13, 32, xxxvi. 12, 20 ; cf. Herzog, vii. 184. 


inexorable severity and incorruptible truthfulness of the prophets 
are not of more divine sublimity than the confidence with which, 
despite the storm of judgment directly impending, they expect 
the appearing of a glorious salvation. Thus, up to the Baby- 
lonian exile (i.e. up to the complete dissolution and destruction 
of the visible theocracy) the promise of salvation forms the bright 
fringe on the dark judgment-cloud, which the host of prophetic 
seers saw hanging over Israel-Judah. 

Thus, at the time of the division of the kingdom, we stand at 
an epoch-making crisis of religious development, after which an 
essentially new phase of prophecy begins. In the Introduction 
(p. 36) we briefly indicated the formal and material distinction 
existing between the stage of development considered so far and 
the one now opening. True, it is incorrect to date prophecy 
generally from the ninth or eighth century, or even to make 
the Messianic idea merely appear first at this period. The very 
origin and outward evolution of the Israelitish commonwealth 
took place under the auspices of the prophetic word. And the 
idea of the Anointed of Yahveh, as we have found, after being 
announced in the form of intimation long before, was uttered 
with divine sublimity already in David's days. But what had 
been heard hitherto of the glory of Israel and its king referred 
still to immediate realization and applied to the nation as it 
was, to the kingdom in its actuality, in its representatives at the 
time. Now a far-reaching crisis intervened more and more in 
the consciousness of the prophets themselves between promise 
and consummation. It was declared with increasing defmiteness, 
that the people of God will first be dissolved in the crucible of 
judgment, and then, redeemed therefrom, fulfil its true destiny. 
Instead of a perfecting of the present divine institution, the true 
seers announced more and more inflexibly its approaching end, 
which would of course be followed by a new creation, the 
making of a new covenant. 

In closest connection with this fact is the n edification which 
prophecy underwent as to its form. True, even after the division 
of the kingdom we see Elijah and Elisha in the northern half 
acting directly and intervening in the political condition of the 
theocracy. On this account their history is the essential thing ; 
their speaking is occasional rather than a testimony reaching beyond 
the present, though telling powerfully on events. Longer dis- 



courses of theirs are not given us. Elijah represents in person 
the divine judicial power, which once more confronts the 
rebellious people, restrains them with wholesome violence from 
the abyss, and brings them back to the one true God. Hence 
prophecy (Malachi) makes him appear again before the final 
judgment; and, in point of fact, the N. T. fulfilment presents 
the form of the preacher of repentance terrifying and arousing 
the whole nation. In Elisha we see the man of God in the 
main dispensing blessing at a time when the people had repented. 
Thus in his kindly bearing and acts he was in high degree typical 
of the Saviour Himself, in whom was revealed all the love and 
grace of God, given to all who trust Him in time of need. But 
the work of the prophets who come next, whether we assign 
Obadiah and Joel, or Amos and Hosea to this period, bears another 
character. Their element is not outward action, certainly of 
deep inner significance, but rational speech, certainly not merely 
theoretical, but practically effective in high degree. And since 
this speech of theirs, more and more giving up the present, appeals 
to the future, it is readily understood why greater importance is 
laid on its being fixed in writing than formerly. The prophetic 
preachers also attend to the recording of their testimonies. Whole 
prophetic books appear and are carefully preserved. 

The contents of prophecy during this period have been in- 
dicated in general in what has been already said, and the 
discussion will furnish special details. Still we may refer to 
certain main conceptions mentioned cursorily in the Introduction, 
which emerge in this period and govern the prophetic field of 
view throughout. Above all, it is the rule of God, the kingship 
of Yahveh, which these prophecies contemplate, p. 30. Even in 
the Mosaic age this idea had found realization, although im- 
perfectly ; in the Davidic it had presented itself in new shape. 
Now it became the subject of oracles pointing to the remoter 
future. 1 The entry of God's perfected rule is denoted both 
by a temporal and local designation. The first is the " Day of 
the Lord" the second the " Corning of the Lord" The former 
denotes, as stated before, the point of time when the Lord will 
reveal Himself to all the world in the righteousness character- 
istic of Him. It is therefore the day of final judgment, when 
God's enemies, with everything evil, will be given over to 
1 Cf. even Ex. xv. 18. 


destruction, at least to retributive punishment, whilst the good, 
the true Israel, will be saved. But it is the former conception, 
that of judgment, which is predominantly connected with the 
phrase. It is the day of reckoning, when the time of divine 
forbearance and human caprice comes to an end, when the 
contradiction between demerit and destiny is done away, when 
the will of God, hitherto only contained in word, is put in perfect 
harmony with actuality. The idea is plainly more positive, 
more definite in contents than that of D^'n nnnx ( se e p. 33), 
but has this in common with the latter, with which as to fact it 
often coincides, that the essential thing in it is not the temporal 
form, but the temporal contents. Hence we ought not to press 
the phrase to mean that these things must be transacted within 
twenty-four hours. The prophet sees the totality of the final 
judgment within the framework of a day. But the conjunction 
is more in contents than time, just as prophecy generally sees 
together things conjoined in contents, whilst in the outward 
reality they may be spread over different periods of time. When 
the judgment of God enters, the final judgment draws nigh, the 
day of the Lord, for the former is a herald of the latter. But 
although the final reckoning may at first fall only on a 
small fragment of mankind, it still forms a portion of the great 
general reckoning which concludes the present course of the 

While the heathen are principally affected by this judgment- 
day, Israel- Judah also must pass through the tire of judgment, 
arid that first ; if and so far as it has not then repented, it also 
falls victim to the final judgment. But to purified Israel a 
promise is given, in a phrase borrowed from space, of a revela- 
tion of God's grace in highest perfection : He will come to take 
up His abode anew on Zion and dwell there for ever in all the 
fulness of the manifestations of His love. His dwelling in the 
midst of His people was always one of the ruling aims of the 
divine dispensations. " He has made His dwelling on Zion." To 
Israel this is the highest boast and ground of confidence. But 
the more that ungodliness gains the mastery there, the more the 
Lord withdraws from His temple and land. His glorious return 
to a blessed dwelling in His Church will take place when 
judgment has cleansed the place. 

As these ideas generally contemplate a new, a more spiritual 


and holy consummation of the kingdom of God, the properly 
Messianic idea also enters on a new stadium. Even in the out- 
ward dissolution of the monarchy this idea is still retained, and 
assumes a purer and more ideal form the more it becomes the 
object, not of sight, but of faith and future expectation. As the 
nation itself must be again gathered from captivity that God's 
plan concerning it may be realized, so too David's house, though 
sunk into a shattered hut, must be again built up. And as in 
the prophetic founding of the monarchy a personal head was 
created in order to immediate contact of the nation with its 
God, so the later promise of salvation reached its climax in the 
announcement of a coming ruler of David's house, who would 
perfectly realize the Messianic dignity. Still here also the 
pyramid is built up gradually. There are prophets in whose 
oracles, so far as they are preserved to us, the hope of the future 
does not take this personal character, but dwells more on the 
national restoration in general ; those also who, keeping more to 
the theological side, promise the day of the Lord, His taking up 
His abode on Zion, without touching on the human mediation 
that was to embody itself in David's son. But, starting from 
the human as from the divine side, the promise tends towards a 
personal union in the Son of David and Son of God. 

How the prophetic writings of the pre-exilian period group 
themselves chronologically according to the world-powers dominant 
at the time, see p. 37. 

24. Obadiah. 

The older prophetic writings preserved to us proclaim still more 
strongly their origination out of the living prophetic word. They 
were perhaps written down directly after their oral delivery. At 
all events their rhetorical, poetical style betrays an inner, natural 
mobility, such as is characteristic of the true seer. Among the 
earliest products (belonging to the pre- Assyrian age) we reckon 
the oracles of Obadiah and Joel, whose near relationship in point 
of time is beyond doubt, whatever the answer given as to the 
date of the two (note A). 

Obadiah' s Prophecy of the Day and Kingdom of God. In the 
vision of Obadiah the seer beholds, in the first place (vers. 1-9), 
the divine judgment on Edom, to whose execution the Lord 


summons the nations. Its pride is humbled to the lowest point, 
its riches thoroughly plundered, its craft ignominiously baffled, its 
defensive power utterly broken. Thus its treachery, its love of 
wrong, its sordid selfishness, the bloodthirsty hate it showed 
against Judah-Jerusalem in its day of misfortune, are revenged 
(10-14). But from ver. 15 the seer's gaze expands into a view of 
the general judgment. Vengeance must come to Edom, for the 
Day of the Lord, i.e. of retribution, draws nigh for all nations alike. 
15" For near is the day of the Lord upon all nations : like as 
thou didst, it shall be done to thee. What thou didst 

16 perpetrate shall return upon thy head. For as you drank 
on rny holy mountain, all nations shall drink perpetually, 

17 and drink and gulp and become as if they were not. And 
on Mount Zion shall be a community of deliverance, and the 

18 house of Jacob shall conquer its possessions. And Jacob's 
house shall become fire, and Joseph's house flame, and Esau's 
house stubble, and they encircle them and consume them, 
and there shall be no escaped one from the house of Edom, 

19 for the Lord has spoken it. And they of the south capture 
the mountains of Esau and the plain the Philistine's land, 
and they (of the mountain) capture the fields of Ephraim 

20 and the fields of Samaria, and Benjamin Gilead, and the 
captives of this army of the children of Israel what belongs 
to the Canaanites up to Zarephath. And the captives of 
Jerusalem dwelling in Sepharad conquer the cities of the 

2 1 south. And redeemers rise up on Mount Zion to judge the 

As Edom has made itself like the heathen, it shall receive no 
better treatment from the Lord than they. Like them, it shall 
experience the retribution of the Judge on the day of the Lord. 
We find the phrase "Day of the Lord" (p. 30, 194) here for the 
first time in prophetic literature. 1 Not that it was newly coined 
by Obadiah. Still the context in him brings out the proper 
significance of the day as the day of reckoning and retribution 
with special force. It is the day of requital for all the iniquities 
committed by the nations in the world's history (ver. 15), 
especially for those perpetrated on the people of the Lord, and 
consequently on Himself. The Nemesis, as depicted in the case 

1 According to Ewald also, it belongs to the older oracle of Obadiah (the time of 
Uzziah). It is found also in striking passages in Joel i. 15, iii. 14. 


of Edom, gives an example of the way in which every nation, 
when the divine justice is carried out, is punished with what 
constituted its sin. Especially does punishment overtake the 
nations for the indignities committed on Zion. As they have 
drunk there without limit, in gross indulgence disregarding the 
sanctity of the place, so in the same place they shall drink to 
excess until they lose their senses. This is a well-understood 
euphemism for the bloody end awaiting them. Whether this 
doom strikes them on the mountain itself, is not to be learnt 
from the passage with perfect certainty, but it is doubtless the 
author's meaning. We see this idea taken up afterwards. In 
Jer. xlix. 12 is found only a figurative drinking of the cup of 
God's wrath, a trope which had become familiar at that time (after 
Hab. ii. 1 6). The thought in Obadiah is independent of this. 

In contrast with this destruction of the nations an escaped 
community l stands on Zion as a positive result of the " Day of 
the Lord." Zion (= temple-mountain, p. 186) figures as the 
centre of the divine kingdom, impregnable henceforth, because 
set apart by and for God. No vengeful foe, no unclean heathen 
shall again tread it. This divine seat is certainly narrow in 
extent. But the divine sway will extend itself over all the 
possessions belonging by right and promise to the house of Jacob 
and Joseph. These are the provinces mentioned vers. 18-20, 
which were but partially ruled by David and Solomon, and after- 
wards were all lost. This description does not seem to be based 
on any direct verbal promise ; the extent is rather indicated 
freely by the prophet himself. 

Then, when the old divine energy revives in every part of the 
nation, the retribution on Edom comes, ver. 1 8 ff. In ver. 1 8 the 
co-operation of the house of Jacob 2 (= the kingdom of Judah) and 
the house of Joseph (= the kingdom of Ephraim or Israel) in the 
judgment on Edom does not seem to agree with the following 
verse (19), according to which Joseph's territory itself must first 

1 nt3B> not ) lit t^np, referring to place : asylum, but according to the usage 
elsewhere (cf. especially Joel iii. 5 andlsa. xxxvii. 32, where it is parallel with JVlXJJJ) : 
body of escaped ones, escaped remnant. The word implies the unity, interconnection 
of those escaped from the judgment, in distinction from D*tD;>3> which denotes 
escaped individuals. Cf. Bottcher, Au.-f. L<-hrbuch, 663, 3. Observe also the 
antithesis, ver. 18 : T"1E> iTTP Np. 

* So also Amos ix. 8. 


be conquered by Judali. 1 But each supplements the other. The 
new expansion of the kingdom of God will start from Zion, 
extend first over the ancestral possessions in Canaan, and then 
also beyond the limits of the Promised Land, where hostile 
peoples, who have no part in this kingdom, are to be subjugated, 
nay, annihilated. A punctilious collation might also show a con- 
tradiction between ver. 1 and ver. 18, all nations being there 
summoned against Edom, here Jacob and Joseph appearing as 
avengers. The judgment is to be inflicted by both parties, by 
the heathen friendly to Edom and the Jews who suffer from it. 

As the kingdom of God has its centre and starting-point in 
Zion, so it embodies itself first of all in Judah-Benjamin, the 
house of Jacob ; its several parts extend themselves (1) The 
Negeb = south of Judah, conquers the adjacent mountains of 
Edom ; (2) The Shephela, the plain of Judah, conquers the Philis- 
tine-country on its border ; (3) and in common 2 they conquer 
the territory of Ephraim and Samaria ; 3 (4) Benjamin, Judah's 
faithful comrade (wrongly taken by LXX. as object), occupies 
Gfilead, the name of a part standing for the east-Jordan country 
generally; (5) Ver. 20, "and this captive Israelitish army (con- 
quers) what is Canaanite-country as far as Zarephath " (note B) ; 
(6) Finally, the captive Jerusalemites in Sepharad conquer the 
cities of the south (note C). Thus the kingdom of Yahveh rounds 
itself off on every side, even those driven into banishment con- 
tributing to bring the alien or disobedient territory into subjection 
to Him. God so orders it that the very dispersion of Israel must 
help to restore His rule. What shape this rule will take is 
intimated merely by a few touches in ver. 21. The phraseology 
here reminds strongly of the age of the Judges : " deliverers 
shall hold the judgment," human D'^IJ'te, exercising the office of 

1 So Ewald, Propheten, I. 491 (2nd ed. 1867). 

2 But probably, with Ewald, "inn is to be inserted as subject after the second 

T T 

Jltjrpl ; the mountain-land of Judah, the chief seat of the tribe, attacks Ephraim on 
its northern border. The LXX. seem to have read the lost word TO Spos, but to have 
referred it wrongly to Ephraim. 

3 No. 3 might seem to countenance a later date of origin, when Ephraim-Samaria 
was in hostile hands. But at all events it was alienated from the legal king, and 
must therefore first be reconquered. Moreover, the hostile attitude of the two 
kingdoms led to constant wars from the time of 1 Kings xv. 6f., 16. Ver. 18 also 
intimates the division of the two kingdoms, which is one day to give place to the 
opposite. According to this verse, they both seem to be in existence, but in a 
depressed condition. 


D'EEC?, as in the age before the erection of the monarchy the 
" Judges " with divine energy delivered the land from the enemy's 
oppression, thereby proving themselves God's organs, further 
judicial authority over the land being given them on that account. 
They establish their seat on Zion. For there is the centre of the 
divine rule, whence Edom also is judged. And Yahveh's shall be 
tlie kingdom, is the significant close of the oracle. Here the goal 
of prophecy is reached. The final purpose of God, according to 
these words, is not the rehabilitation of Israel, but the rule of God 
Himself. This is the end of all history, the goal of all judg- 
ments ; this the destiny of Israel and the whole world : to become 
and be God's. It is true the divine rule in this oracle, with an 
allusion to the old promise, is still confined to narrow local limits ; 
but the oracle by its nature is designed to undergo spiritualiza- 
tion ; cf. vers. 15, 17, 21. Its few lineaments tend of themselves 
to grow into an outline of the divine world-plan. 

As to the fulfilment, it leaves nothing to be desired in reference 
to the doom of annihilation threatened to Edom and to be carried 
out by heathens and Jews. After Edom, without laying to heart 
the prophet's warning, had filled up its measure of iniquity in the 
overthrow of Jerusalem, 588 B.C. (Ezek. xxxv. 5, 10 ; Lam. iv. 22; 
Ps. cxxxvii 7), on which account Obadiah's prophecy is taken up 
anew by Jeremiah (xlix.) and Ezekiel, its punishment followed, 
probably at the hands of the Chaldeans. At least Mai. i. 3 pre- 
supposes a righteous devastation of Edom, and also announces 
that if they build again the Lord will again cast down. This, too, 
happened. It is known from history how the Maccabees, the 
last successful heroes who drew sword for the national theocracy, 
real DTB>i and D s t?Bb>, waged a war of victorious revenge against 
Edom, 1 Mace. v. 3, 65; Joseph. Ant. xii. 18. 1. Judas 
Maccabseus vanquished them ; then, according to Ant. xiii. 9. 1, 
John Hyrcanus completely subjugated them, even compelling 
them to receive the law (circumcision). Alexander Janmuus 
brought the remnant of the Idumaeans under the yoke, Ant. 
xiii. 15. 4. In the conflicts of the Zealots against Rome the 
tribe utterly perished, Bell. Jud. iv. 9. 7. 

Thus were the prophetic threatening? realized. Only, they 
combine in one picture what history splits up into different periods 
and events. But according to Obadiah, all peoples who war 
against the temple on Ziou will fare like Edom. This general 


threat, as well as the bright side of promise in the oracle, takes us 
far beyond the time of the Edomite conflicts. According to the 
oracle, Israel's superiority to the hostile kindred nation and all the 
heathen has its roots in the dwelling of God in its midst. At 
the general judgment of the world a saved community remains 
on Ziou, from which judgment and dominion go forth over the 
lands. The fulfilment of this has taken a form of unimagined 
greatness. In Jerusalem deliverance from the divine judgment 
was revealed. Salvation went forth from the Jews. Among 
them arose the true JPBJiO and BSB>. Not that circumcision was 
forced on the heathen, but that they received the gospel from the 
Jews, is the true Israel's supreme triumph. And the extension 
of this divine rule has also surpassed all conception. The king- 
dom of the God who dwelt on Zion, the kingdom viewed by the 
prophet, in keeping with the horizon and vision of his time, as a 
kingdom of Israel with enlarged limits, in virtue of the spiritual 
might inherent in it, necessarily burst all limits, extended towards 
every quarter of heaven, and spread over all nations in a way 
quite different from what it was permitted him to see or neces- 
sary for his contemporaries to know. But as he surmised, it was 
allotted to the Jews scattered throughout the world to bring all 
nations into subjection to their God. 

NOTE A. As relates first to Obadiah's date, it is plain enough 
from his oracle that he vents his displeasure on the Edomites in 
lively indignation at their conduct in a catastrophe which befell 
Jerusalem. The most obvious course seems to be, to refer this 
" day of Jerusalem's calamity" to the overthrow by Nebuchadnezzar 
(588 B.C.), in which the Edomites in fact took an active part, Lam. 
iv. 21 f. ; Ezek. xxxv. 1 ff., especially ver. 5 ; Isa. Ixiii. 1 ff. ; Ps. 
cxxxvii. 7 ; 1 Esdr. iv. 45, 50. But to this is opposed the fact 
that Jeremiah's oracle against Edom (xlix. 7 ft'.), written to all 
appearance in the fourth year of Jehoiakim, and in any case 
before the overthrow of the city, seems to be a copy of Obadiah's 
oracle. See especially the detailed proof in Caspari, Der Prophet 
Obadja, 1842. Obadiah's oracle is original, homogeneous, charac- 
teristic ; in Jeremiah the bold turns of speech are smoothed down ; 
he starts again and again, whereas his original is struck off at one 
blow. The analogy also of the other Jeremiah-oracles against 
foreign nations favours this relation of dependence. Cf. especially 
how Jeremiah's oracle against Moab (xlviii.) leans on Isa. xv. 
xvi. ; also Jer. xlix. 1-7 (against Ammon) on Amos i. 13-15 ; xlix. 
23-27 (against Damascus) on Ainos i. 3-5. In consideration of this 


state of the case, Ewald has distinguished in Obadiah's oracle two 
authors, an older one speaking in Uzziah's days (where he 
wrongly refers Obad. ver. 1 ff. to the past), whom Jeremiah took for 
a pattern, and whom some one still later, after the overthrow 
of Jerusalem, enlarged by adding Obad. vers. 11-14, 16, 19-21. l 
"We rather hold by the outer and inner unity of the passage, recog- 
nising in the very fact of the prophet first seeing the judgment 
in clear lines as if it lay before his eyes, and only then bring- 
ing himself to speak of the well-known crime of which Edom 
had been guilty, 2 a sign of his high poetic afflatus. Moreover, exe- 
getical considerations are here decisive. The question is, whether 
Obad. ver. 10 ff. must refer to that overthrow of Jerusalem, whether 
ver. 20 f. can refer to the Babylonian exile. In the latter passage, 
indeed, a great body of exiles is presupposed in the north among 
the Canaanites ( = Phoenicians), conquering the territory of the 
latter up to Zarephath, and one in the west (Sepharad) capturing 
the cities of the south. But any exile in the east (Assyria, 
Babylon) or fugitives in Egypt are as little mentioned as a judg- 
ment on the Babylonians. For the land "nsp, in which the 
captives of Jerusalem pine, according to the stone-inscriptions, 
where it figures alongside Jauna, Greece, is to be sought in the west, 
and, indeed, perhaps in Asia Minor (according to others = Sparta). 

On the other hand, the catastrophe witnessed by Obadiah is 
without doubt the same that Joel has in view (chap, iii.), where 
Philistines and Canaanites are accused of having plundered 
Jerusalem ahd sold its inhabitants to the distant DW ":?, and 
(ver. 19) Edom is specially marked out for judgment. Insolent 
carousings of the victors took place in Jerusalem, according to 
iii. 3 as according to Obad. 15. The difference is merely this, that 
whereas the last-named prophet has these misdeeds directly before 
his eyes, in Joel they lie farther back, although the recollection 
still burns as an unhealed wound, and the captives are still dwell- 
ing afar. That Joel speaks after Obadiah also appears from his 
citing Obad. 17 in ii. 32. 

The most attractive view is that of von Hofmann (also Delitzsch, 
Kleinert), that the event referred to is the plundering of Jerusalem 
under Jehoram (2 Chron. xxi. 16 : 896-884 B.C.), since the later 
ones under Amaziah and Ahaz (2 Chron. xxv. 23, xxviii. 5) were the 
work, not of foreigners, but chiefly of Israelites. The former, again, 
are Dn3J or Dnr, Philistines and Arabians, whom the designations 
suit, just because of their indefmiteness, better than they suit the 
Chaldseans. "With them are joined the Edomites, who also, 
according to 2 Kings viii. 20 f., 2 Chron. xxi. 8 f., took advantage 

1 Cf. also Graf, Der Prophet Jeremia, 1862, p. 553 ff. 

2 To refer ver. 10 ff. to future crime (Caspar!, et al.) is too artificial 


of Judah's weakness to revolt. Amos also (i. 6, 9, 11) has the 
same or like circumstances in view, which must therefore have 
transpired long before the Babylonian overthrow. Looked at 
more closely, moreover, the complaint (Obad. 10 ff.) contains nothing 
pointing of necessity to the Babylonian catastrophe. There is no 
mention at all of an overthrow of the city or temple (quite other- 
wise in Ps. cxxxvii.), only of a capture and plundering with 
insulting excesses, 1 and especially of deportations to various 
countries (cf. Joel iii. 2). In Obad. 18, also, the houses of Jacob 
and Joseph seem to be in existence side by side, although in a 
state of weakness and mutual variance. The promise exhibits 
them again united, and indeed around Zion as the centre, but says 
nothing of a rebuilding of the temple. 

NOTE B. "We take *?n to be a defective form of fyft, power, 
army (ver. 11). It is the captive elite of the children of Israel, 
and refers either this is the most probable, according to ver. 11 
to the captive soldiery of Judah in contrast with the captive 
inhabitants of Jerusalem, or to a deported army of the northern 
kingdom. At all events this army was taken northward ; on its 
return thence it captures the Phoenician country, which as far as 
Zarephath (lying south of Sidon, somewhat inland, at present 
Sarafend) is added to the kingdom of Israel, run does not prove 
that the prophet was among the deported soldiery, but perhaps 
that this crowd of captives was in every one's thoughts, their 
carrying away was vividly before the eyes. We take D 1| 3J|33~iK'K 
(like Hitzig) as object to ^'Tl to be supplied from the previous 
verse ; the latter is first repeated in the following clause. 

NOTE C. The inhabitants of Jerusalem, carried away at the 
capture of the city and dwelling in the west, conquer the south, as 
the former army the north. They are perhaps to be thought of as 
removed to Egypt or Philistia. Sepharad, where they sojourn at 
present, is not Spain (so the versions and Eabbins), which is 
only suggested by the sound, but is perhaps like Javan (Joel 
iii. 6 in the same connection), a land in the west. For the 
inscriptions of Darius mention often a land Cparda alongside 
Jauna = Greece (used indefinitely). It must be a country in the 
vicinity of Greece, either in Europe or Asia Minor. After Silv. 
de Sacy had combined Cparda with our "nsp } it was more pre- 
cisely identified with Sardes (in native speech Cvarda, Lassen) 
or Sparta, a name to which the Jews, of course, would attach 

1 Volck (Herzog, art. "Joel ") objects Joel iii. 2, which, however, applies better to 
deportation of captives by different countries and annexation of portions of territory 
by the same than to the Chaldeean catastrophe. Obad. 11 : " They cast lots upon 
Jerusalem," may, in accord with the parallel sentences, be understood of the seizure 
of what the city contained. 


just as indefinite a notion as to " Ionia " (Hitzig, Delitzsch, 
Kleinert). In any case, it refers to the districts of the 
Mediterranean, whither the Phcenicians sold their captives. 
Cf. Schrader, Keilinschriften und Altcs Testament, p. 284 f., who 
certainly would rather find the district in Babylonia. See, on tin- 
other side, Steiner in Hitzig's Comm. zu den kl. Proph. (4th ed.), 
p. 168. 

25. Joel (note A). 

The occasion of Joel's prophecy is a terrible public calamity, 
namely, a desolation of Judah by swarms of locusts repeated, per- 
haps, for several years (i. 4, ii. 25). The devastation thus 
caused, which turned the smiling land into barrenness, the prophet 
describes in impassioned words (i. 2 ff.). He saw it before his 
eyes a present fact, not something future. Only, a fresh swarm 
seems just to have come ; hence the terror that has fallen on 
prophet and people. 1 It is perverse in any case to interpret 
these locusts allegorically (note B), to refer them, e.g., to heathen 
armies, as though the destruction of all growth by those destructive 
insects were not terrible enough to move the prophet to the cry 
of alarm (ii. 1) : " Sound the trumpet on Zion, raise a cry on my 
holy mountain, for the day of tlw Lord comes, for it is nigh, 2 a day 
of obscurity and darkness, a day of cloudiness and thick gloom ; 3 
a terrible Jay, such as none can endure" (ii. 11). This day of 
general retribution spoken of already by Obadiah is imminent. 
The Lord is coming to judgment. This wild army, darkening 
the heavens (ii. 10), is in a certain sense His terrible vanguard 
(ii. 25). Judah's fields are being utterly ravaged, and the 
strength of the land consumed. Still there is hope that the 
Lord may be moved to relent when He finds a penitent people, 
seeking His mercy, "rending its heart, not its garments" (ii. 13). 

1 Cf. on the different stages of hatching, Credner, Comm. zu Joel; Bochart, 
Hierozoicon, iii. 251 ff. ; Thomson, The Land and the Book, p. 416. 

2 Cf. i. 15. The ^3> which might be taken as perfect : " It is here ! " would be 


easily misunderstood and seem strange ; hence, by way of explanation, the more 
precise : namely, it is near. 

3 H^BX = ^DNi a more uncommon word, strengthening 7]{>n 5 in the same way 
?Diy, a poetic addition to py ; ^Qiy, in Ex. xx. 21, is the impenetrable cloud- 
darkness covering Yahveh at the lawgiving on Sinai. Cf. the dismal twilight on 
the day of the Lord (Zech. xiv. 7). Travellers compare the gloom caused by a 
swarm of locusts (cf. Ex. x. 15), and colouring the picture in the present passage, 
to an eclipse of the sun. 


Not in vain does the prophet preach this. His word finds 
response ; and in view of the general penitence and prayer of 
the Church, he is able to assure it that the Lord will by a double 
blessing abundantly make good all it has suffered (ii. 18-27). 
At the close of the promise allusion is made to the spiritual 
ground of this blessing. In the abundance of wheat, wine, and oil, 
produced by the long-needed, fruitful rain, Israel is to learn 
that Yahveh, its God, the only true one, dwells in its midst, just 
as in the desolation of nature it was forced to recognise the anger 
of its God. But the prophecy does not stop here. It is in special 
degree the manner of this prophet to rise from nearest to highest, 
from the outward and earthly to the spiritual and divine, and 
to view particular occurrences in immediate connection with the 
aim of the whole historic development. As he considered the 
plague of locusts in the light of its inner meaning as God's 
judgment, and therefore looked at it as an immediate forerunner of 
the final judgment, so behind the temporal, earthly blessings 
promised for the near future he discerns a fulness of heavenly 
blessing ; on the natural he sees a spiritual, more heavenly rain 
follow, one still more refreshing, and making the nation bear 
fruit to the Lord : 

ii. 2 8 f. : " And it shall come to pass after this, I will pour 
out my Spirit upon all flesh : And your sons and your 
daughters shall prophesy ; your old men shall dream dreams, 
and your youths see visions. And even upon the servants and 
upon the maids in those days I will pour out my Spirit." 

The heavenly gift of the Spirit is well distinguished from the 
earthly, physical blessing both in its nature and time ; l it follows 
later, crowning the work of the Lord in Israel, and also intro- 
ducing the end of the world's history. 

Of course, although Joel sees the necessity of an inner refor- 
mation of the people, he may think of it as near (in distinction 
from later prophets). A revolution in the outward and the spiritual 
atmosphere may bring it about. 

To wish to refer ii. 28 ff. and chap. iii. to a different author 
from chaps, i. and ii. (M. Vernes) is totally to overlook the mode 

p-*-inKi indeed, leaves the duration up to the second epoch indefinite (cf. Isa. 
i. 26) ; still the prophet is not thinking merely of "the immediate future" (Anger), 
since a time of quiet prosperity (chap. ii. 26) precedes the world-crisis introduced 
by ii. 23. 


of viewing the mundane and supramundane in intimate connec- 
tion characteristic of this prophet, as already mentioned. On the 
contrary, the rain sent by the Lord of nature leads to a higher, 
diviner one, by which He will fertilize His Church. The natural 
rain suggests the expression, " outpouring " of the Spirit, 1 so well 
adapted to intimate the rich fulness of this heavenly gift. Here 
is something new, unheard before. Hitherto the Spirit of God 
qame down on individuals, seizing and filling them ; but an out- 
pouring, in which all must needs share, as in a shower of rain, 
has never been. And yet this is the meaning, as the "^"ba 
more precisely states, " upon all flesh." 

On the one hand, this "it?;* certainly suggests the sensuousness 
and frailty of the human creature in contrast with the Divine Spirit 
(cf. Ps. Ixxviii. 3 9 ; Job xxxiv. 1 4 f . ; Isa. xl. 6 ; also Num. 
xvi. 22, xxvii. 16). The divine life-spirit does not dwell in the 
human creature by necessity. On the other hand, this "^"ba is 
always used to express a sense as comprehensive as possible. 
Sometimes even animals are included (Lev. xvii. 14; Gen. vii. 
21), which, of course, is not the case in the present passage. 2 As 
a rule, the whole of mankind is meant (Gen. vi. 12 f.; Ps. cxlv. 
21, and often). In the present prophecy, the extent is deter- 
mined by what precedes and especially by what follows, where the 
general statement is specialized : " your sons and your daughters," 
etc. Consequently, all the inhabitants of the land (not of the 
earth) are meant. 3 The prophecy is therefore limited in the first 
instance to the covenant-people ; only no emphasis of any kind 
rests on this national limitation ; the stress lies on the univer- 
sality within the nation. There every one without exception 
will be filled with the Spirit of God, young and old, the free, 
and even the slaves, who in great part might not be of Israelitish 
blood, on which account they are declared with special emphasis 
to be included. 

1 After Joel it became common (Isa. xxxii. 15, xliv. 3 ; Zech. xii. 10). To assert 
that the prophets took the Spirit for a fine fluid, is just as unwarranted as to infer 
from the N. T. phrase of the blowing of the Spirit that Jesus and the apostles 
represented it as a stream of air. How can one set forth the operation of the Spirit 
without sensuous expressions, or even speak of it ? The mobile water and the 
unseen yet perceptible air are well adapted to give a conception of the nature and 
working of the Spirit (cf. His attributes, Wisd. vii. 22-24). 

* In opposition to Credner. 

3 That such a limit may be assigned to "|K>2 ?3 by the context, is proved by 
Jer. xii. 12 ; Ezek. xx. 43. 


The Spirit of God certainly dwells in every animate creature 
as a breath of life (Ps. civ. 29 and elsewhere, see p. 4) ; but 
here a higher potency of the Spirit is meant, in comparison with 
which animated man, despite the divine breath, is still 1^2 : not 
the Divine Spirit that since the creation dwells in every creature, 
nor that which characterizes men, but the superhuman Spirit of 
God, destined by God's gracious decree to become immanent in 
the Church. It is the Spirit who conveys the Lord's special 
revelations to His servants and handmaids, and is designated 
(ii. 28) by this fruit of His operation. " Your sons and daughters 
shall prophesy." ] Whereas this refers to the utterance of divine 
revelation, the following expressions refer to its reception : " the 
young see visions, the old have dreams," in harmony with imagina- 
tive youth and slumber-loving age. Thus, what Moses mentioned 
as a scarcely attainable ideal (Num. xi. 29) will be actually seen : 
the entire people will participate in this high gift of grace. All 
its members, not excepting the least, will stand in as immediate 
relation to the Lord as the prophets, so that no mediation will be 
necessary for them. It will be a nation not merely serving the 
Lord as priests, but also testifying of Him as prophets a Church 
of the Lord grown to maturity. This will be the consummation 
of the Church of God on earth, when it has become the body in 
which God's Spirit dwells, filling and animating every member, so 
that its God will no longer stand over against it distant and alien, 
but in accordance with His true nature will enter and dwell in it. 

But this consummation of the Church is withal the inaugura- 
tion of the end of the world. For in the world two develop- 
ments run side by side, that of God's Church issuing in perfect 
divine fellowship, and that of God-estranged humanity tending 
to the final judgment redemptive history whose fruit is salvation 
to the called, and the world-history whose goal is the world- 
judgment. Judah, in its present state, must necessarily be put to 
shame in the day of the Lord ; but repentance there effects a 
spiritual change which, produced from above, creates a new 
Church which supplies a refuge in the judgment. In the same 
way from this Church goes forth before the judgment a warning 
prophetic testimony, which in union with the tokens in heaven 
and on earth announce to the world the approach of the 

1 N23. denominative niphal : behave and bear oneself as 


judgment-day. For the form in which the Spirit is made known 
in ii. 28 is not unconnected with the mighty convulsions im- 
pending. When the Church is filled with the Spirit, its eyes 
are opened to the great things coming on all the world. Hence 
the close conjunction of ver. 30 ff. with the foregoing: 

ii. 30 f . : "And I show 1 miraculous signs in heaven and on 
earth, blood and fire and vapour of smoke. 2 The sun shall turn 
into darkness and the moon into blood, before the day of Yahveh 
comes, the great and terrible day." 

The approach of the judgment-day will be announced by all 
kinds of fearful signs; one of these has just been witnessed, 
other mightier ones will follow. There will be phenomena of 
such form as involuntarily to remind of the terrors of the divine 
judgment : heaven and earth will be fiery, blood-red, dark. The 
several phenomena are not to be more closely defined. At all 
events our prophet brings these natural phenomena into intimate 
connection with the divine action and human history. Darken- 
ings of sun and moon are events of a kind best adapted to shatter 
men's security and fill them with horror. In the New Testament 
also they appear among the heralds of the final judgment, 
Matt, xxiv., Rev. vi. 1 2 f. How this " changing " of sun and 
moon is to be brought about, is quite indifferent. Enough that 
the clear daylight is turned into its opposite, and the gentle 
moon is to be seen terrible, blood-red. Perhaps earthquakes and 
tempests, volcanic outbursts and great conflagrations flitted before 
Joel's mind. Nor was it mere superstition to recognise an inner 
connection in such phenomena. With perfect justice, childlike faith 
sees therein divine hints pointing to the judgment on all creation. 

Thus the judgment-day (ii. 1 ff.), once again turned aside by 
Judah's repentance, must yet one day come. But the Church of 
God, blessed in those days with the fellowship of the Divine Spirit, 
has no reason to fear the messengers of terror in the heavens, 
the conflagrations and wars on earth : 

1 tnj. also in Ex. vii. 9 with QTlDiD, miracula, astounding phenomena, by which 

' - T : 

God calls men's attention to His working, and here paves the way for His judg- 

8 ni"lCn, from a sing. HIO'Tl, hut only occurring in theplur. in conjunction with 
yjy (Cant. iii. 6), and denoting lofty columns of smoke. The more correct writing 
according to the Massora is that with > ; nilOTli thus from the stem -)> 
to rise aloft, whence also ion (~\'0r\, palm, etc.), a secondary stem. 


ii. 32. "And it shall come to pass: Every one that calls on 
the name of Yahveh shall escape. For on Zion - hill and in 
Jerusalem shall be a Church of deliverance, as Yahveh hath 
said. And among the escaped (they) whom Yahveh calls 

This verse shows that the Jewish country is not safe in itself; 
but deliverance, or belonging to the Church of deliverance, is 
personally conditioned. Whoever in the universal krisis puts 
his trust in Yahveh, the true God, shall be delivered. 1 From 
Abraham's days invocation of Yahveh's name is also a con- 
fession of the true God in distinction from the many gods of 
the heathen; cf. Gen. iv. 2 6, but especially xii. 8, xiii. 4, xxi. 33, 
etc. ; Micah iv. 5. " For where Yahveh makes His abode shall be 
an escaped host, a Church of safety (p. 198), as Yahveh said." 
Plainly an earlier divine oracle is cited ; what other can it be 
than Obad. ver. 17 ? 2 " And among the escaped (they) whom 
Yahveh calls." One might separate these words as an inde- 
pendent sentence : " and among the escaped shall be those whom 
Yahveh calls." Then the Dnnfc> might be identical with the 
nDvQ ; adding by way of supplement to the forementioned condition 
of salvation, that he who is to be delivered shall not merely call 
on Yahveh, but also be called by Him. But the right view 
rather is, that the idea of the no^a, at first confined to Jerusalem- 
Judah, is extended to the individuals whom the Lord calls near, 
as being still far from His Church. The prophet is scarcely 
thinking of the exiles who need to be summoned by Yahveh's 
powerful voice before the state of the Church reaches its com- 
pletion, but of the heathen 5 who escaped the judgment. 

This brings to mind the political visitations which the land 
suffered some time before, and the scars of which still burn. 
The shameful injustice inflicted on it by the heathen nations 

1 tD?O3 properly to slip away, LXX. ffuffotreu. From such prophetic passages 
ffiirnfix (so LXX. in Obad. ver. 17 for ntD^Q, whereas in Joeliii. 5 it has ivmnu^afista; 
for this) becomes a positive fundamental idea of the New Testament. The positive 
0. T. phrase for this is niWfl. 


* Merx (6, 16) finds Isa. ii. 4, Micah iv. 1, Isa. iv. 2, x. 22, "cited " here in fact 
an " unconstrained " form of citation ! 

* The 13 (iii. l)isto be connected with QH^ICP : on ^y individuals escape besides, 
for Yahveh will judge and destroy all nations in the Valley of Jehoshaphat, cf. 
Zech. xiv. 16. 



gives occasion to describe now the judgment-day itself, when the 
Lord will reckon with them according to Obad. ver. 15. 

iii. 1 f. "For behold in those days and at that time when I 
shall bring back the captives of Judah and Jerusalem, 1 then 
I will sweep together all nations and bring them down into 
the Valley of Jehoshaphat, and there try issue 2 with them 
respecting my people and my inheritance, Israel, which they 
scattered among the nations, dividing my land," etc. 

The bringing back of the scattered Israelites will be accom- 
panied by the instituting of the great judgment on all nations, 
set on foot by God, who guides the thoughts of the princes and 
peoples, and to their destruction incites them to assemble together 
against His city, 3 all which is set forth in detail in ver. 9 if. The 
Vale of Jehoshaphat is named here and in ver. 1 2 as the place where 
the Lord will enter into judgment with His foes. That this 
valley is a mere fiction of the prophet 4 is not probable, considering 
the realistic character of his prophecy. Since Ibn Ezra's days, 
many with more right have thought of the valley where, according 
to 2 Chron. xx. 16 ff., the noble king Jehoshaphat won a glorious 
triumph over the confederated foes of Judah by God's miraculous 
help, almost without drawing sword. But that valley is called ppj? 
ron^ " valley of praise," from the anthems of the victorious people, 
and the name belongs to it to this day. A ruined site, Bereikut, 
has been found west of Tekoa. Accordingly, the place did not 
lie in the immediate vicinity of Jerusalem, where one must con- 
jecture it in Joel's prophecy along with Obad. ver. 16, but 
farther south (halfway, perhaps, to Hebron). Hence we sur- 
mise that in Joel's days a valley between that scene and the 
capital bore Jehoshaphat's name in memory of his famous 
campaign, which took place about fifty years before. The later 
tradition, first appearing in Eusebius, has perhaps not gone far 
wrong in giving this name to the Valley of Kedron. The prophet 

1 The apodosis first begins in ver. 2. For the chief emphasis rests now on the 
general judgment of the nations. In itself certainly one might also, with Wiinsche, 
take ver. 1 independently, as Zech. viii. 23 shows. The teri unnecessarily sub- 
stitutes the hlphil for 3^, for the kal also may be transitive. 

2 Nip/ial, because perhaps both parties put forward their claims at law. Cf. in 
ver. 4 ff. how the Lord pleads with them. 

1 Judg. iv. 7. 

* Credner, Winer, et cd. Kleinert also (in Riehm, Handwdrterbuch, p. 759) : 
" To Joel the name is not geographical, but the name of the great king." 


was led to choose the place, first, by its nearness to Zion, which 
the hostile armies intended to besiege ; and secondly, by its 
name, which inevitably recalled God's great act in inflicting a 
similar judgment, although on a smaller scale, on the combined 
foes of Jerusalem, without His people lending a hand. 

The guilt of these heathen nations having been recalled to 
memory, and an apostrophe to them interposed, there follows, 
ver. 9 ff., a description of the way in which they are brought into 
the valley by a divine summons, there to fall a prey to the gory 
harvesting of the warriors of God. 

9 " Proclaim this among the nations : Sanctify a war ! Wake 
up the heroes : let all men of war draw near and come up ! 

10 Beat your ploughshares 1 into swords, and your pruning-hooks 

1 1 into spears. Let the weakling 2 say, I am a hero ! Hasten 3 
and come, all ye nations round about, and assemble yourselves 

1 2 thither bring thy heroes down, Yahveh ! Let all nations 
bestir themselves and come up to the Valley of Jehoshaphat ; 

13 For there will I sit to judge all nations round about. Put 
ye in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe ! 4 Come, tread, for 
the wine-press is full. The vats overflow, for great is their 

1 4 wickedness ! Heaps on heaps in the threshing- waggon vale. 6 
For the day of the Lord is near in the threshing-waggon 

1 5 vale ! Sun and moon grow dark, and the stars restrain 

16 their brightness. And Yahveh roars from Zion, and from 
Jerusalem He makes his voice thunder, that heaven and earth 
quake. But a refuge is Yahveh to His people, and a guard 

17 to the children of Israel. And ye shall learn that I am 
Yahveh your God, dwelling in Zion, my holy mountain. 

1 D^flK r DTIX) from n^, according to the versions = ploughshare. As in 
1 Sam. xiii. 20, ntjhTO is distinguished from it ; many prefer the meaning "hoe, 
mattock " (so Symm. ). Cf. Credner here. 

2 K^n, only here, opposite of 133, from ^n, to be flaccid, weakly. 

3 K*IJ?, only here = VftH, festinare : festlnare et venite =festinato venite. Not 
so well LXX., Syr. : assemble themselves. This occurs first in W3j?31 which is not 
imperative, but perfect of the third person, into which the summons passes. 

4 ta'3> properly to seethe, boil well, then to ripen in the heat of the sun. 

b pnn, explained usually : something cut off, then a divinely-determined decree, 
fatum, cf. Isa. x. 22 thus valley of destiny. But as the word here concludes the har- 
vest-figure, it is far more natural to take it like pnn 3~riQ ( so alread y Calvin) : thf 
sharpened threshing sledge, for which pin alone occurs elsewhere (Isa. xxviii. 27 ; 
Amos i. 3). 


And Jerusalem shall be a temple, and strangers shall pass 

1 8 over it no more. And it shall be on that day, the mountains 
shall drop with new wine, 1 and the hills shall stream with 
milk, and all the valleys of Judah flow with water. And a 
fountain shall go forth from the house of Yahveh and water 

19 the acacia-dale. Egypt shall be a desert, and Edom a waste 
steppe, because of the outrage on the sons of Judah in 

20 shedding innocent blood in their land. But Judah shall 
remain for ever, and Jerusalem from generation to generation. 

21 And I will cleanse them from their blood, from which I have 
not cleansed them ; and YAHVEH DWELLS IN ZION." 

Delitzsch remarks that the destruction of the locusts finds its 
full counterpart in the destruction of the enemies of Jerusalem, 
chap. iii. And, in fact, ii. 20 especially shows that those insects 
are not described by the prophet without a side-glance at the 
nations. The judgment upon them is brought about by a divine 
summons issued to the heathen, for to them the words of ver. 9 ff. 
are addressed. The Lord commands them, because He is the real 
author of this movement. He causes them to give vent to their 
hate against the city of God, really against the Lord Himself, by a 
general rising to war against Jerusalem. That it is the enemies 
of the Lord whom He commands, does not conflict with the 
challenge : " Sanctify a war," for norpp tnp means : " Prepare for 
war by ceremonial consecration," which was usual also among the 
heathen. 2 Accordingly it is not said that it is really a holy war 
in the Lord's service. Still the phrase is used of set purpose, 
because this war, unknown to the heathen, is arranged by the 
Lord, who is thus bringing on His judgment-day (cf. Isa. xiii. 3 ; 
Jer. xxii. V). 

An unusual martial enthusiasm, the work of a higher power, 
now seizes on the heathen world. Everything fit for war is set 
in motion. Not merely are the valiant heroes roused for the 
decisive blow, even peaceful rustics are seized by battle-rage, 
and beat the implements of their livelihood into deadly weapons. 
Even the feeble and cowardly gather themselves together, take 
courage, and play the man. Micah iv. 1 1 f. gives a commentary 

1 Hitzig presses these expressions most nnpoetically to mean : "The new wine of 
the vineyards will pour so abundantly into the grapes that it will burst the skins ; 
the cattle will have so much milk that it will run out involuntarily." 

2 Cf. Baudissin, Studien zitr stmitischen Retigionsgescldchte, ii. 66 f. 


on the passage. A daimonic excitement impels the nations to 
march against Jerusalem. But their martial eagerness against 
the city of God is kindled by the Lord Himself, who thus calls 
them to judgment. 

The seer beholds this wildly-raging sea approaching the limits of 
the Holy Land on every side. " Come on ! " runs his challenge, 
" Press close together ! " " Thither," he cries next, turning to God, 
when he surmises what the Lord's purpose and wish is, " Thither, 
where the hosts are all thick together, bring down Thy heroes, 
Yahveh!" The passage recalls Judg. v. 13 (cf. ver. 23): Y~^T ' n 
D'ntejQ. " Yahveh (Himself) came down to me among the heroes ! " 
This parallel would suggest that by the " heroes " whom Yahveh 
is to lead we should understand the Judseans, who must rush 
down from Zion as the Israelites once from Tabor. The final 
judgment would then be conceived as a decisive battle between 
Judah and its foes, the Lord's intervention, of course, being the 
decisive factor. In Obad. vers. 18-21 also, we see God's people 
and their (human) leaders executing judgment on the heathen. 
But in the present passage heavenly avengers are meant, commis- 
sioned by God for the work, so that the people need lend no hand, 
as in Jehoshaphat's victory and other great deliverances, e.g. the 
destruction of the Egyptians in the Red Sea. The phrase nnan,. 
properly : let down, does not suit a human army ; also the suffix: 
" thy heroes," points to celestial warriors; cf. Ps. ciii. 20. 

Again, in ver. 1 2, as in ver. 2, the valley is named to which God 
provokes the enemies to gather. The calm majesty lying ia3W*l 
" There will I sit to judge," is in fine contrast with the excited 
multitude which, without suspecting it, presses before the judgment- 
seat of the Most High. Ver. 13 contains the judgment in the 
form of a command for its execution. God tells His D^iaa to put in 
the sickle, because the harvest is fully ripe, to tread the wine-press, 
because it is overflowing a stately, twofold image of the general 
judgment used here for the first time. It applies to a harvest 
that comes after long waiting, when full ripeness has arrived. 
That which has to ripen is wickedness ; of this the last words 
leave no doubt; cf. Matt. xiii. 30. The harvest-image, in itself 
so lovely and peaceful, is here full of terror. The sickle reminds 
one of the sword, the overflowing wine-press of streams of blood. 
This horrible harvest and vintage appears again in Isa. Ixiii. 1 ff., 
Rev. xiv. 15, passages modelled upon this one. 


The fateful command of the Lord is uttered ill ver. 13. Next 
it is to be carried out. Meantime the throng becomes greater 
and greater in the "valley of the threshing- waggon," ver. 14. 
And the heaven above grows dark, ver. 15. Yahveh's thunder- 
voice is heard out of Zion. Now the tempest of judgment 
bursts on the heathen. But it is veiled in gloom from the gaze 
of the seer. There is no use in seeing or describing such judg- 
ments. God Himself draws over it the veil of night. All the 
brighter shines on the prophet the deliverance and safe hiding of 
God's people (close of ver. 16), which sensibly experiences the 
Lord's preserving care ; cf. ii. 2 7. For Zion in truth has shown 
itself an inviolable sanctuary, and hereafter will be desecrated 
by no hostile foot. As in Obad. ver. 17, Knp applies here to 
impregnability respected in the future. 1 

This terrible judgment-clay becomes to the Church of God a 
mere storm clearing the air. Now every fount of blessing 
streams stills more richly than after the locust-plague, ii. 21 ff. 
In ver. 18 ff. the seer's gaze dwells with pleasure on the exuberant 
wealth of wine and milk then seen in Judah (cf. Gen. xlix. 11), 
and especially on the abundance of water vouchsafed then in 
distinction from the present. The most parched-up wadis in the 
broken country of Judah stream with water. And in particular 
a fount, springing from the temple, will water the acacia-dale. 
However one may stumble at the precise form of the symbolic 
dress, the image before the eyes of the seer is concrete. He is 
here also a realist, inasmuch as a physical basis for the spiritual 
is indispensable to him. As the natural rain is really meant, 
ii. 23, while at the same time it is a symbolic type and pledge of 
the spiritual (ii. 28 ff.), so a glorified Judah after the judgment 
really presents itself to him as well-watered in the significant 
way, that its source is found in the temple. The spiritual 
counterpart to this in a certain sense is seen in ver. 21. The 
outer aspect of the land will then fully correspond to its 
spiritual condition. 

The " acacia-dale," whither the temple-spring sends its waters, 
is in any case a waterless wadi, the acacia (acacia vera), especially 
at home on the Sinai-peninsula, occurring just on dry, sandy 
soil. The locality named after this kind of tree in Num. xxv. 1 ff. 
is not to be thought of in this passage, because it lies east of 

1 Baudissin, Studien, ii. 48. 


the Dead Sea, and the flowing of the temple-spring thither is 
inconceivable. Credner thinks the Kedron-vale intended, and 
there is no question that the seer contemplates this deep valley 
waterless, mostly barren, lying near the temple-hill as in the 
first instance watered by the temple-spring. But perhaps in his 
day the name " acacia-dale " rather belonged to the farther course 
of the valley toward the Dead Sea, perhaps a part of the 
present Wadi en - Nar. With this agrees the description in 
Ezek. xlvii. 1 ff., which clearly adds further details to the above 

Whereas Judah then is cleansed and fertilized by a fountain 
springing up in its temple, Egypt, a land so rich in the arts of 
irrigation, is destitute of this blessing ; it is bare and barren as 
hostile Edom. The former is mentioned as the old hereditary 
foe, whose land had drunk much innocent Israelitish blood (cf. for 
Rehoboam's time, 1 Kings xiv. 25), Edom as the kindred people 
that had proved so faithless in later days. To both, but chiefly to 
Edom, the justifying accusation applies : " because of the outrage 
to the sons of Judah 1 in shedding innocent blood in their land." 
Here the worst thing is selected with which Edom was to be 
reproached. In the rising of the Edomites under Jehoram, to 
all appearance the Judfeans settled among them were slain. The 
innocent blood shed in these lands makes them from this time 
unfruitful. Judah and Jerusalem will never more be disturbed 
in their rest, Amos ix. 15. The judgment having been carried 
out, nothing more threatens the security of the place where God 
dwells. What ? Is there not even in Judah the curse of innocent 
blood ? To this the last verse replies : " I will cleanse their 
blood which I have not cleansed " (note C) = cleanse them from 
their blood-guiltiness, provide them means of expiation to cancel 
such guilt as hitherto I could not regard as cancelled. Even the 
Holy Land needs purifying before it can become God's permanent 
dwelling-place and partake in all His blessings. The temple- 
fount is the physical expression for this expiating of the land's 
guilt as well as for the blessing of the soil. In the former sense 
Zech. xiii. 1, in the latter xiv. 8, allude to the present oracle. 
" And Yahveh is dwelling on Zion ! " As Obadiah closes with 
the sentence : " Yahveh's is the kingdom," so Joel stamps on his 

1 The same word with genit. obj. as in Obad. ver. 10. Where Joel speaks of 
Edom he falls back on Obadiah's words. 


prophecy the seal of completion with this saying, a promise of 
the Lord's permanent presence in His Church, now hallowed 
and glorified. 

This third chapter then foretells a general rising of the world 
(which certainly figures, in a historically limited view, as an 
alliance of the nations hostile to Israel) against the Holy 
Land and city, really against the Lord Himself. This con-' 
spiring of powers hostile to heaven leads straight to their de- 
struction, which overtakes them near the sanctuary which they 
are invading, the Lord causing His avenging hosts at last to 
reap a bloody harvest; whereas Judah, secure in the guardianship 
of its God, who has cleansed and fertilized His land by open- 
ing a new fount of grace, will be henceforth His inviolable 

If chaps, i. and ii. picture the coming day of the Lord more 
from the view-point of nature, chap. iii. presents the comple- 
tion of salvation more under a national and political aspect ; 
for both stand in intimate union with the plan of the divine 
kingdom. Like the entire life of nature, vegetable, animal, 
sidereal, so political life must serve its ends. To bring about 
the rule of God and the consummation of His Church all the 
forces of heaven and earth are set in motion. For His judgment 
plant-world and animal-world, stars equally with the human 
world, must co-operate, even as they are all affected by it. And 
like the judgment, so also the divine salvation is seen in every 
sphere of the phenomenal world. There is nothing purely 
spiritual, and also nothing grossly material; nothing physical 
that is not animated by God, and nothing divine that is not 
revealed in nature. Whoever thus contemplates creation and 
history in connection with the kingdom of God is able to 
prophesy, i.e. to announce the destiny of nature and the goal of 

Let us again recall the main thoughts which Joel, under the 
illumination of God's Spirit, reads in the occurrences of nature 
and the incidents of history. 

1. There comes a Day of reckoning on God's part with all 
lands, when He will make known His terrible supremacy over 
nature. But for His people He will prepare an asylum on 
Zion, chaps, i. ii. 

2. Along with the approach of the world -judgment the 


Church of God is consummated, and that by an outpouring of 
the Spirit filling all its members, chap. iii. 

3. The history of the world will issue in a universal rising of 
the nations against the people of God. In thus uniting in con- 
flict against the Lord, the world-power delivers itself into the 
hands of the Judge, iii. 9 ff. 

4. Meanwhile a sacred paradise blossoms around Zion, where 
the Lord dwells amid His own ; while reconciliation and blessing 
stream forth thence upon ransomed heathen. 

It is true these world-embracing ideas wear in many respects 
a form of national limitation. But this does not injure their 
universal character. To the prophet, Zion is the central spot 
of the history of redemption and the world. Against it, against 
God who dwells there, the whole world unites. There is the 
origin of the world-judgment, as well as the source of purity 
and grace. Instead of interfering with the range of these oracles, 
this local unity is itself of eminent significance, 1 all the more so 
that the prophet does not soothe himself with the illusion that 
people and land in their present state are fit for the kingdom of 
God. As the people needs sifting, spiritualizing, and sanctifying 
in all its members, so the land needs cleansing and glorifying, 
before God can take up His abode in it for ever. Thus we have 
here a mighty advance in prophecy. It gives us, indeed, no 
personal Mediator, but the divine action on the Church by which 
the Church will be completed is here definitely sketched. While 
this Church is not yet set free from national limits, the Church 
of the future is plainly distinguished from the present national one. 
First of all, it must be fertilized by the Spirit's regenerating 
power from above, before it corresponds to what it is meant to 
be, a God-filled people ; and again, the salvation which preserves 
from the final judgment is made to depend on God's personal 
relation to the individual and the individual's to God. 

As regards the fulfilment of Joel's prophecies, we know how 
the Apostle Peter (Acts ii. 1 6) has described Pentecost as the 
fulfilment of the close of Joel's second chapter. 2 That no 

1 Cf. Goethe's well-known saying: "The real, sole and deepest theme of the 
history of the world and man, to which every other is secondary, is the conflict 
between belief and unbelief. " 

2 The oracle is there cited freely after the LXX. Instead of the p<.ra raura, which 
the LXX. have in conformity with the Hebrew text, he puts ra7s ivx/xmis r,p.ifa.ij, 


reference can be meant to any universal outpouring of the Spirit 
in the previous history is clear. But there in fact the youthful 
Church, consisting of Jews and associates of Jews of every kind, 
was fertilized by a shower of the Divine Spirit such as had never 
been before in the world, so that henceforth God's gifts of grace 
(%ap ia fjun a) dwelt in it. Henceforth God's Holy Spirit was the 
heritage of the Church. Since receiving the Spirit of divine 
adoption and fellowship, the Church has attained maturity. It 
no longer needs human mediation and representation before God 
by prophets and priests ; it hears for itself the voice of God and 
receives His revelation. This Spirit is not bound to a particular 
order or age or generation ; He is the property of every living 
member of God's people, made such by personal faith, so that in 
the highest matters they have all equal standing and rights. 
Certainly this people of God, this mature Church of saints, only 
extends as far as the influence of the Divine Spirit reaches, so 
that the well-known axiom of Irenseus holds good, not indeed of 
Christendom, but of the true Christian Church as it has existed 
since Pentecost, although not in local and constitutional unity: 
Ubi ecclesia ibi et Spiritus Dei, et ubi Spiritus Dei illic ecclesia et 
omnis gratia. 

It may seem strange that Peter also in his discourse makes 
the menaces of judgment (Joel ii. 30 ff.) follow immediately on 
the above words of promise. But this is done in harmony with 
the purpose of the prophet and the course of things. In the fact 
that the Church now received its full consecration, and was to be 
brought to its perfect state, the apostle recognised that now the 
other development, that of the world-power, was approaching its 
end the judgment. And for the Israel, which had decided for 
this world, the two events fell very close together. A few decades 
after the shower of the Spirit had shaken the disciples' house at 
Jerusalem, the city burst into flames ; not perfume of sacrifice, 
but vapour of smoke rose from the temple to heaven ; fire and 
blood strove together. The doom of annihilation, foretold by 
the possessors of Christ's Spirit, and announced by many fearful 
tokens in heaven and on earth, was come. 1 Through this judg- 

a phrase not without warrant, since even, according to Joel the previous event 
introduces the conclusion of history. 

1 Cf. Josephus, De Bello Jud. vi. 5. 3, which narratives show at least that the 
consciences of the people were wrung not without reason ! 


ment the Lord preserved to Himself certainly by unforeseen 
means a Church of deliverance. This Church was formed, the 
nation having been sifted, of all individuals who "called on the name 
of the Lord," i.e. took refuge in the Lord revealed in Christ. The 
fact that Joel lays down (ii. 32) such a purely personal, not 
national, condition of salvation, Paul (Rom. x. 13) knows well 
how to appreciate, for which of course he must submit to be taken 
to task by Dr. Aug. Wiinsche ! Here without doubt a reason is 
given to justify the reception of the heathen into God's kingdom, 
whether Joel is here precisely thinking of the heathen or not. 

But although in the founding of the Church of Jesus Christ 
this prophecy was initially realized, its evolution, extension, and 
spiritualization are not concluded. The Church of. God, to which 
many from all peoples have been called, is still by no means 
spiritually mature, and intimately one with its Head in all its 
members. When the work of the Spirit approaches completion, 
and the Church, filled with the Spirit, is fully prepared for the 
dwelling of the Lord, then also will the world-judgment, already 
provisionally accomplished on the Jews and the heathen, advance 
to its conclusion. From a universal war of extermination waged 
by the powers of this world against the Church, the Church will 
issue saved, purified, and hallowed. Then also the Lord's dwelling 
in His Church on earth will be realized outwardly. How far 
the picture sketched by Joel of this kingdom on Zion is an 
adequate likeness, how far a miniature outline, of what is to be, 
only the future can show. In any case, the outer will correspond 
to the inner glory of the Church. 

NOTE A. Joel's Age. Joel, too, belongs to the southern kingdom 
(Judah), like Obadiah, and the contemporaneousness of the two 
prophets seems to us beyond doubt. What elements, then, may 
be gathered from Joel's oracles in confirmation of this date ? The 
natural occurrence to which his preaching refers the locust- 
plague cannot be fixed chronologically from other authorities. 
On the other hand, in the latter part of Joel's prophecy a clear 
political horizon comes into view. There appear as Israel's foes 
neither the Chaldseans nor Assyrians (as from Amos's days), nor 
the Syrians, but Philistines, Idumeans, 1 Phoenicians, just as in 

1 According to iii. 19, these especially have shed innocent blood, which seems to 
refer, like Obadiah's accusation, to the revolt under Jehoram (889 B.C.), 2 Chron. 
xxi. 16, 2 Kings viii. 20, which was avenged by Amaziah (825), 2 Kings xiv. 7. The 


Obadiah. Along with these, Egypt, the old hereditary foe, is 
mentioned. Without doubt Joel iii. speaks of the same marauding 
inroads of the heathen on Judah as Obadiah. According to Joel 
also, Jerusalem was plundered, and the inhabitants made captive, 
carried away, and sold to the distant Greeks. These occur- 
rences are still painfully remembered, nor does the rr6a or rvar 
dwell afar off; but clearly in Joel that calamity lies farther back 
than in Obadiah's lively indignation at Edoin's treachery. To 
all the misfortunes mentioned by the latter, a new one mean- 
while is added, which fills up their measure ; not from men, but 
from God Himself a new plague has come, not an army of heathen, 
but God's fearful host the locusts. 

(The oracles of Amos present a point of time still more advanced. 
In him, indeed, also the Philistines, Phoenicians, and Edomites 
appear as the foes who have invaded Israel, but in addition in 
the first line the Syrians, who meanwhile have become troublesome. 
How far Amos i. 6-11 has the same events in view as Obadiah 
and Joel may be disputed, seeing that Amos brings together, in 
his list of sins, occurrences of various periods. Amos also, like 
Joel, speaks of the sale of captive Israelites by Philistines and 
Phoenicians ; and as regards Edom, cf. i. 11 with Joel iii. 19. On 
the other hand, in Amos i. 6, 9, the captives are handed over to 
Edom; whereas in Obad. ver. 14, Edom hands them over toothers, 
and according to Joel they are sold by the Phcenicians to the Greeks. 
For JV ^3 (Joel iii. 6) are not a south- Arabian people (Hitzig) ; 
cf. B. Stade, De Populo Javan, 1880. Thus it is probable that at 
least in the Phoenician slave-dealing, Amos was thinking of an 
occurrence lying nearer to him. They were, perhaps, Israelites or 
Gileadites who were sold by the " Canaanites " in crowds south- 
ward, to Edom.) 

If Obadiah is rightly put in the time of Jehoram, the time of 
Joash (877-833 ?), the second successor of Jehoram, would present 
itself as that of JoeL Since, as already remarked, in Joel's dis- 
courses the Syrians are not mentioned, who from 850 (2 Kings 
xii. 18) pressed hard on Judah, this circumstance points us to the 
first period of Joash, when this king was justifying the best hopes, 
while the monarchy was inferior to the priesthood by which it was 
held in tutelage, 2 Kings xii. 2 ; 2 Chron. xxiv. Credner first 
vindicated for the prophet so early an age (870-865) ; similarly 
Winer, Delitzsch (c. 860), Hitzig (870-860), Kleinert (875-850), 
Wiinsche (860-850), Steiner. 1 In the same way Ewald puts 
forward internal reasons for the great age of the book. The attitude 

oracle then arose before this point of time; cf. also Joel iii. 4-6 with 2 Chron. 
xxi. 16. 

1 Hengstenberg and Bleek bring the oracle somewhat lower down, namely, to the 
time of Amos, therefore c. 800. 


of Joel to nature, to the people and cultus, points to an early time 
(Ewald, Propheten, i. 89). For his view one may appeal to Joel's 
language, and his simple, grand, luminous style. In point of 
form his tractate belongs to the most perfect we possess in the 
Old Testament. Prophecy and poesy so interpenetrate that 
separation is impossible. 

Finally, frequent allusions to Joel are found in the prophetic 
literature. Amos adopted certain words of Joel. In i. 2 he 
borrows his phraseology from Joel iii. 16 ; cf. Amos ix. 13 with 
Joel iii. 18. Amos also speaks of the heavy plague, present to 
Joel, as past (iv. 9), where DTJ is a designation of the locusts, 
occurring elsewhere only in Joel (i. 4, ii. 25). In Amos v. 18, 20 
the warning against the Day of the Lord, addressed to those 
sick of the world who, in their self-righteousness, longed for that 
catastrophe as if they had only good to expect from it, implies that 
the expectation of that day was current among the pious, which 
certainly was in the main a fruit of Joel's oracles. In the time of 
Amos this prophetic truth was an object of abuse. That the 
Zion - oracle, found both in Isa. ii. 2-4 and Micah iv. 1-4, was 
originally Joel's (Hitzig, Ewald), is, on the other hand, an un- 
proved conjecture. On the other side, Isa. xiii. 6, 9 f. leans on 
Joel i. 15, ii. 1 f., 10. And Zeph. i. 14 is, perhaps, dependent on 
Joel ii. 1 f. Joel iii. 18 is further expanded by Ezek. xlvii. 1 ff. 
Cf. also Ezek. xxxviii. 17, xxxix. 8, with Joel iii. 9 ff. 

Thus, in modern days, despite the objections of Vatke 1 and 
Hilgenfeld, 2 who assign Joel to post-exilian times, we are pretty 
generally accustomed to see in Joel the oldest prophet whose 
oracles are preserved in literary form. On the other hand, more 
recently, several critics 3 have joined the two just mentioned in 
assigning Joel's oracles to post-exilian times. Duhm states the 
reasons, p. 275. They do not, however, seem to us weighty 
enough to rebut those on the other side. That this brief oracle 
does not mention the kingdom of Israel, is explained by the fact 
that the prophet has his dwelling in Jerusalem, and his work is 
limited to Judah, to which also the eschatological future belongs. 
That the monarchy is not referred to, while the priests are specially 
prominent, is readily explained by the circumstances of the first 
period of Joash, when, in fact, the priests were the real fathers of 
the nation. The real reason, however, why those critics push the 
oracle down to post-exilian days is something else : it contradicts 
too openly a hypothesis regarded in recent days by many as the 
unavoidable result of science. Were Wellhausen right in his 

1 mblische Theologie, p. 462. 

2 Zeitschr.f. wiss. Theologie, ix. p. 412 f. 

* Seinecke, Der Evangelist des Alten Testaments, p. 44; Duhm, Theologie der 
Propheten, p. 275 f. ; Merx, Die Prophetiedes Joel und ihre Ausleger, 1879, p. 1 ff. 


assertion that only from Isaiah's days could the temple at Jeru- 
salem lay claim to be the central sanctuary of the whole land, 
nay, Yahveh's sole dwelling-place, how could a pre-Isaianic prophet 
view Zion as the centre of the revelation of judgment and sal- 
vation, as Joel does ? l Were it true that the pre-exilian prophets 
thoroughly disparaged sacrifice and declaimed against it, how 
would Joel, who complains of nothing so much as the forced 
interruption of the sacrificial service in the temple, agree with 
them ? Thus this " little, unimportant book," as Duhm calls it, 
stands most inconveniently in the way of the Graf-Kuenen-Well- 
hausen theory as to the development of the Israelitish cultus and 
civilisation. For this reason it must be set aside, and the feeling of 
astounding originality and freshness impressed on the unprejudiced 
reader is dismissed with a phrase like the following: "Why 
should not an epigonus, gifted with great talent for form, and not 
troubled with much thought, by careful imitation of the best 
models, write a good style ? " (Duhm, p. 276). Whereas all un- 
prejudiced examination will allow priority to Joel iii. 16 over 
Amos i. 2, the inverse relation must be asserted, 2 etc. I But we 
will not, iu the interest of a critical hypothesis, which at best is 
still infected with much error, and forced to support itself by so 
much arbitrariness, degrade so vivid a prophecy into the artificial 
product of an age of epigoni. See also Steiner in Hitzig's Comm. 
zu den KL Proph. 1881, p. 73 f. 

NOTE B. The four kinds of locusts are mostly referred to four 
kingdoms. So already the Targum of Jonathan, and after him 
nearly all Church Fathers, who differ, however, in interpreting the 
four kingdoms. Still Jerome and Theodoret declare the proper, 
natural acceptation not inadmissible. This acceptation, really his 
only admissible one, was maintained in the Middle Ages by Ibn 
Ezra, Kaschi, David Kimchi, and was approved in the Reformation 
age by Luther and Calvin. Bochart ensured its victory in his 
Hierozoican. He is followed by Credner, Hitzig, Ewald, Delitzsch, 
Keil, Wunsche, and most moderns. On the other hand, Hengsten- 
l>erg, Hiivernick, Hilgenfeld, Merx, et ai, have returned to the 
artificial allegorical or symbolic exposition. 

NOTE C. Gesenius, et al., instead of the first 'JTjM, would read 
vnipjM, after the LXX. I* jnj ,<*<*/. But the two words are not synony- 
mous at all, but are opposite in meaning. n|53 signifies " to declare 
pure," insontem declaravit, synonymous with P^vn, elsewhere with 

1 See p. 187. 

2 Of course we do not mean that even thus Amos i. 2 suffices to refute the Well- 
hausen account of the late acknowledgment of the temple on Zion as the only true- 
sanctuary (Gesch. i. 23 If.). Still in this passage Amos already assumes as self- 
evident that Yahveh dwells on Zion, and from Zion judges the world ; cf. Ps. 
ex. 2. 


personal object, here with that of the offence. DEI, according to 
Num. xxxv. 27 (cf. Deut. xxi. 8), is the blood lying on Judah, 
blood-guiltiness, for which the plural is more common, Ex. xxii. 1, 
and often. Merx explains differently (p. 26 ff.). He supposes that, 
" I declare (make) their blood *|?3, pure, which (before) I did not 
hold 'p:," means, as in Jonah i. 14, Deut. xxi. 8, Jer. xxv. 29 : "I 
will let it not be shed with impunity, declare it inviolable." Even on 
this acceptation an expiation, a purifying, and that of persons, is 
presupposed. But ver. 19 favours the former explanation. Also 
the meaning assigned by Merx to this piel (to declare inviolable) 
cannot be confirmed by example. 



26. Amos. 

THERE follows a trio of prophets, Amos, Hosea, Zechariah 
ix.-xi., all belonging to the northern kingdom, at least 
doing their work there, and that at a time when the kingdom 
was on the decline. The oldest of them, Amos, a born Judrean (of 
Tekoa, i. 1), was called from his herd to prophetic preaching 
amid the idolatrous " house of Israel," by the Lord's imperative 
command, under the strong, prosperous rule of Jeroboam II. 
Growing up in severe simplicity, a speaker in the spirit and power 
of Elijah, he had to expose without fear the evils of the land, 
glossed over with glittering tinsel, and to announce the approach- 
ing judgment. He sees the judgment on the nations, not like 
Joel in a comprehensive picture, but in a cycle of single judg- 
ments. While he knows of the " Day of the Lord," his proclama- 
tion of judgment is more historical than eschatological. And since 
he cannot promise a future to the northern kingdom, the proper 
object of his menaces, the prophecy of the completion of God's 
kingdom with him falls into the background behind the announce- 
ment of the work of destruction which Yahveh purposes on Israel. 
The first half of the book in weighty discourses (i.-vi.), the second 
(vii. ix.) in brief, simple, but pregnant visions, contains the 
judicial sentence on a faithless nation bewitched by wanton 
image-worship and forgetful of the most elementary moral duties. 
The nation will be scattered among all lands, nay, completely 
carried into exile, at which point the prophet sees Assyria rise before 
him, which was beginning to appear threateningly on the horizon. 1 

1 The whole historical field of view shows close affinity with that of Joel, but as 
remarked, p. 220, is considerably in advance. 



But although the present course of things can only lead to 
judgment on Israel (not merely the heathen, as mainly in Joel), 
instead of salvation, the book is not quite without bright features. 
Here also and here in special degree applies what we said 
(p. 193) of the contents of prophecy during this whole period : 
The threat of judgment stands in the foreground, the promise of 
salvation forms merely the bright fringe of the judgment-cloud 
then ascending. Precisely in Amos judgment like a storm-cloud 
makes the round of the nations to descend most heavily on Israel ; 
and only through its last fringe does there appear a ray of divine 
grace, in whose light a happy future opens. 

In the fifth vision (ix. 1 ff.) the prophet has seen God's house 
in Israel, the sanctuary of the northern kingdom, fall to pieces, 
and the nation buried under its ruins. The Lord intends a 
radical destruction of this sinful kingdom ; only He will not utterly 
destroy the house of Jacob ( = kingdom of Judah, ver. 8). As 
this limitation of the judgment recalls the patriarchal promises, 
so the oracle recalls the inalienable mercies of David : 

Amos ix. 11 f . " In that day will I set up THE COTTAGE OF 
DAVID that is fallen to pieces, and will repair its rents and set up 
its ruins, and build them as before, 1 that they may take in posses- 
sion the remnant of Edom and all nations, over which my name 
has been proclaimed, says Yahveh, who performs these things." 

Whereas to the northern kingdom, powerful and vigorous as 
it seems, the prophet can hold out no hope, God's covenant with 
David will as little fall to the ground as the one concluded with 
the fathers of the nation. The house of David is certainly at 
present in a ruinous state, really no longer fit to be called a house, 
but a mere hut (Isa. i. 8) ; soon it will tumble down altogether. 
Not long before, Jeroboam II.'s predecessor, Joash, had van- 
quished the Jewish King Amaziah ; the fame of the Davidic 
dynasty seemed gone for ever. But despite this appearance of 
things, the incorruptible, fearless prophet proclaims to the 
Ephraimite land, that only this despised " cottage," i.e. the king- 
dom of Judah, the soul of which is the race of David, has a bright 
future before it, since God will restore its power to as glorious 

1 The sudden change in the gender and number of the suffixes in ver. 116 is 
strange. The suff. fern. plur. in jrT'X'IB seems not to refer to the cities of Judah, 
but to a ni~n3 tying in the verb ; vnb'"tn to the j-p3 lying in ri3D ; rVJV331 refers 

to nap. 



a state as it had ever enjoyed. Disobedient Edora * must again 
bend under its sceptre along with all the countries already 
claimed for the Lord. This promise does not hover in the far 
distance, but keeps within local limitation, at least as to the sense 
it must have had for the hearers of Amos. The past greatness of 
Judah floats before the prophet's eyes, as ver. 1 1 f. shows, as some- 
thing reappearing hereafter. As Jeroboam 1 1. had just again restored 
the limits of the northern kingdom according to the prophecy of 
Jonah, son of Amittai (2 Kings xiv. 25), so according to the 
oracle of Amos a like restoration of power in yet fuller measure 
was to be granted to the house of David. Not merely every- 
thing which David and Solomon actually possessed, but every- 
thing already claimed by the Lord as His property * was to serve 
it hereafter. To this head belongs in the strict sense, e.g., even 
Phoenicia, which was never an Israelitish possession. In the wider 
sense one might certainly remember that universal dominion has 
been virtually promised to David as the Lord's Anointed, God's 
son (Ps. ex. 2 and others) ; but the concrete conception of David's 
future kingdom is still ruled here by the past (just as in Obad. 
ver. 17). The evolution and expansion of the theocracy takes 
place in this form, that the lands previously designated to its service 
are all actually subjected to the house of David. This is said 
and sealed by Yahveh, " who performs these things." How this is 
to come about, is meantime incomprehensible ; enough that at last 
it will so come to pass. 

Then God's people and land have rest, peacefully enjoying 
the blessings which the Lord has bestowed on them. In exactly 
the same way as Joel, Amos closes with the joyous prospect of 
a covenant - people in Canaan enriched by God's grace with 
abundance of gifts and undisturbed by judgments : 
13 " Behold, days come, saith Yahveh, when the ploughman 

1 Cf. i. 11. Edom alone is named here, as the foe most hated, on whom the 
house of David must wreak satisfaction, which agrees excellently with Obadiah 
and Joel. 

2 The explanation: "All nations over whom the name of the Lord has been 
proclaimed " = preached, is contrary to idiom. According to Deut. xxviii. 10, jop3 
^y /w DE>> tne name of the Lord is proclaimed over a nation in the sense that He 

takes possession of it, makes it His property. But the perf. is not to be interpreted 
as/u<. exactum : " all nations, to which I (the Lord) shall have proclaimed a right of 
possession ; " rather what has been already promised to the house of David is meant. 
The LXX. obtain a much more general sense by reading 


overtakes the reaper, and the grape-treader the seed-sower : 
and the mountains drop with new wine, and all hills melt. 

14 And I maRe the captivity of my people Israel return home, 
and they build again the desolated cities and dwell therein, 
and they plant vineyards and drink their wine, and plant 

15 gardens and eat their fruit. And I will plant them upon their 
soil, and they shall no more be plucked up out of their soil, 
which I gave them, saith Yahveh, thy God." 

The physical blessing is depicted (ver. 13) in much the same 
language as at the close of Joel's prophecy (iii. 18), with a 
phrase, however, which points back to the Torah. The normal 
state of agriculture, described in Lev. xxvi. 5, according to which 
threshing-time is to reach to vintage and vintage to sowing-time, 
is surpassed in the prophetic description of the happy future*: 
the plougher overtakes the reaper, etc. One will scarcely be 
done with ploughing when the crop will be ripe, and with 
treading grapes when the sowing will have to begin, which 
bespeaks just as wonderfully rapid growth as an exuberant wine- 
harvest. Almost all the year through reaping and grape-treading 
will go on. To this is added the same hyperbole as in Joel : the 
" dropping," nay, " melting of the hills," which abound in wine 
(and milk). Then strikes the hour, when the deported ones, whom 
we have already seen in Obadiah and Joel (of. Amos i. 6, .9), but 
who are far more numerous, according to the view of Amos, afte: 
the whole of Israel has been " sifted " among the nations (ix. 9), 
shall return (Joel iii. 1) at the Lord's instance, to enjoy with their 
nation in undisturbed peace the fruit of their labour which the 
Lord has blessed; whereas at present, in consequence of the absence 
of His blessing, what has been built and planted with bitter sweat 
falls a prey to strangers. 

Thus we see that the prophecy of Amos only at the end turns 
into a prophecy respecting the divine kingdom, setting forth its 
future establishment, like Obadiah and Joel, under historical, 
local, and political limitations. If Joel is richer in the historical 
breadth and spiritual depth of his prophetic views, Amos, on the 
other hand, on account of the scene of his labour, excels him in 
insistence on the truth, that the divine promise given to David can- 
not fall to the ground. 1 He does not, indeed, expressly attach the 

1 That "the entry of the Davidic monarchy into the circle of the Messianic 
prospects stands in causal connection with the new and promising beginning which 


hope of future salvation to a particular ruler of David's house ; but 
he calls attention to the promises bestowed on this house, which can 
as little be abrogated by the sin of the nation and its rulers as 
those given to the patriarchs. Both together assure the continu- 
ance of the nation, at least of a vigorous remnant, right through 
the judgment, as well as its future imperial glory amid Davidic 

The fulfilment of the promise of Amos does not admit of such 
palpable proof in the following age as that of his threatenings 
against Israel. Although under Uzziah an invigoration of the 
southern kingdom took place, this does not satisfy the language 
of Amos ix. 11 ff., if one keeps the kingdom within such historical 
limits. The setting up of the Davidic kingdom, as later prophets 
plainly show, was to take place on a grander scale, and the addition 
of the heathen to it was to assume far wider dimensions than the 
contemporaries of the herdsman of Tekoa were able to conceive. 
In this wider and higher sense the Apostle James (Acts xv. 1 6 f.) 
proclaimed the programme of God's kingdom in the words of 
Amos, his kinsman in spirit (following the LXX.), after the 
appearance of the Son of David, whom the synagogue after the 
present passage had called Bar Nafli (^B3 "O), 1 because he was to 
raise the cottage from its depth of degradation into a world-ruling 

27. Hosea. 

In the oracles of Hosea, a younger contemporary 2 of Amos, as 
different from the latter in temperament, in his mode of viewing 
and stating things, as he is one with him in the aim and nature of 

the monarchy took after the accession of Uzziah a king as pious as he was energetic, 
and adorned with every kingly virtue" (Riehm, Messianic Prophecy, p. 121) is not 
to be asserted. Prophecy has proved that it can dispense with such pragmatic 
supports, since it drew the Messiah-picture most completely and confidently in the 
reign of Ahaz. (This seems also to be Riehm's view, according to the English 

1 Sanhedr. 766. Fr. Delitzsch, Messianic Prophecies, p. 59. 

2 The Book of Hosea collects together discourses delivered throughout a long 
space of time. The first of them were spoken without doubt under Jeroboam 
1 1. 's rule, the later (vii. 7) describe the anarchy that arose after his death ; and his 
work in any case extended to about the time of Menahem. On the other hand, it 
can scarcely be supposed that he was still active under Hezekiah, as the inscription 
states and x. 14 has been thought to prove. 


his prophecy, we encounter in still more triumphant form the 
confidence that the Lord will at last turn everything to the good 
of His people, after they have drunk the cup of judgment to the 
dregs. If Amos is a rough herald of the righteousness of the 
Lord (of course not without priestly sympathy for the judgment 
falling on his people, as vii. 2, 5 shows), Hosea is the impassioned 
singer of the Lord's love for His people. Even Hosea, indeed, is 
obliged to deal mainly in rebuke, doing this without human regard 
and indulgence. He is obliged to disclose still worse things, if 
possible, than Amos ; for moral corruption, vice, and godlessness 
have made rapid strides. The judgment must soon and terribly 
be inflicted on Israel and its rulers ; nay, Judah also, as the seer 
more and more perceives, will be involved in it. 1 This insight 
into the nation's heinous inner corruption, joined with the pro- 
spect of impending judgment, makes the lyre of this loving singer 
quiver with tragic, Jeremiah-like sadness. But he has seen just 
as deeply into God's bottomless compassion. On this account 
often, after language of rebuke, the most glorious promise bursts 
forth without any introduction. Despite all appearance to the 
contrary, he knows that the Lord will do good to His people at 
the end, and will verify His promises. 

This prophet also, like Amos, is far from intending to intro- 
duce a higher, more spiritual religion, as has recently been 
attributed to him. The new element he brings is rooted in the 
old revelation made to the people through Moses, but fallen, as 
he bitterly complains, in his days into oblivion and neglect. But 
certainly Hosea gives more profound glimpses than any one before 
him into the mystery of the love of the God who brought His 
people out of Egypt under Moses. The designation of Israel as 
God's first-born son is Mosaic (Ex. iv. 22), 2 as well as the applica- 
tion of the marriage-relation to the covenant existing between 
Yahveh and His Church (Ex. xxxiv. 15 f.; Deut. xxxi 16). But 
Hosea developed the latter analogy more elaborately and 
spiritually than had been done before, nay, made it the soul of 
his preaching, thereby suggesting a deepening of the covenant, 
the full importance of which was only revealed to the IS". T. 
Church. Marriage is a love-bond, not tied merely by nature 
(like that between father and son) without regard to individual 
assent ; it rests on a mutual choice, which again is determined 
1 iv. 15, v. 10 ff., vi. 4, 11, xii. 2. * P. 128. 


by sympathy of disposition. It is true that tins element is not 
made so prominent in the Old Testament as in the New first, 
because in antiquity the position of woman was still subordi- 
nate, she was unconditionally dependent on the favour of man ; 
and again, in harmony with this, because the Church itself was 
not yet free, had not come to maturity. Hence in the passages 
touching on this relation the Old Testament chiefly emphasizes 
the absolute dependence of the woman on the man, of the Church 
on its Lord and Master, its duty to submit wholly to Him ; its 
first and best virtue is obedience, chaste fidelity to Him. The 
relation (as in the Old Testament use of paternal right and filial 
duty) is more legal than in the application of filial and bridal 
love in the New Testament. But Hosea, if any one, is a pre- 
cursor of the love-song echoing in the New Covenant. He has a 
high, intense ideal of the tender bond which, according to God's 
will, was to attach the Church to its Lord ; he insists unceasingly 
that this relation must be exercised in reciprocal love, and gives 
a certain prospect of the realization of this divine ideal in the 
future. In this way, without doubt, he has contributed not a 
little to the application of the songs, extolling the love of the 
Anointed One, (Ps. xlv. ; Canticles,) 1 to that love of God for Israel 
which was to form the crown of the future Messianic salvation, 
and withal its innermost sanctuary. The present time sets before 
the prophet's eyes nothing but the opposite of this blessed 
union of the Lord with His people. The more tender and sacred 
to the prophet the covenant into which the Lord entered with 
His people, the more painfully he felt the shocking disturbance 
of this fellowship by the gross sins of the people. But in order 
that the people also, despite their dulness, may feel how glaring 
is their unfaithfulness, Hosea was compelled to set this bad 
state of things before their eyes in his personal household life. 
The people's double-mindedness in God's service, their dalliance 
with Canaanite nature-worship, is nothing but adultery (iv. 12, 
15, v. 3 f., 7, vi. 10, ix. 1). Thus in chap. i. ff. we see the 
prophet involved in heavy domestic misfortune. His wife is 
untrue to him, she runs after strange paramours ; his children 
are children of whoredom. How far the prophet relates actual 
experience, how far he merely uses a didactic form, can scarcely 
be made out with certainty. To us it appears most probable 

1 P. 172. 


that Hosea really suffered from unfaithfulness in his wife, and 
afterwards learnt that he (God's prophet and representative) 
must needs endure this unhappy lot by God's will, in order that by 
his domestic a-tcdv&a\ov, which only too surely drew the people's 
attention to him, he might be able to hold before their eyes a mirror 
in which they should learn how they stood to the Lord and the 
Lord to them. On the other hand, it seems as if, after the prophet 
and the Church had become used to that parallel, the account 
of the third chapter were freely sketched by the prophet in order 
to exhibit a particular element of the prophecy. The three 
children of the adulteress (chap, i.) seem to be the prophet's actual 
children, meant by their names (like those of Isa. vii. 3, 
viii. 3) to remind the people of the misery and doom that would 
ensue from their unfaithfulness. On the other hand, in ii. 1 ff. 
the prophet is thinking of the children of the Church, i.e. its 
several members who suffered under the burden of its guilt, and 
were called to protest against its sinful conduct. 

As the gloomy, vivid picture held by Hosea before the people's 
eyes is almost strong enough without words to impress even a 
race without conscience and insensible to divine things with a 
sense of its guilt, so it serves also vividly to depict the chastise- 
ment which the Lord purposes to inflict on His unfaithful 
people. He will take away His help from His unfaithful 
Church (ii. 6, 9 ff.) and withdraw His benefits, for which she 
thanks only false gods, and thus by want and affliction bring her 
to reflection ; He will also, as chap. iii. pictures, shut her up in a 
place where intercourse with her paramours will be cut off, i.e. lead 
her into exile, where she can no longer practise the Canaanitish 
abominations attached to local conditions. Moreover, the pur- 
pose of these punishments is to be made clear in the example of 
the adulteress. The divine paedagogy leads her into exile as into a 
new Egypt, and into the wilderness as to a second sojourn at Sinai, 
in order to correct her and win back her love, to reawaken her 
longing for salvation. There she will repent, i.e. change her mind 
so as to desire to return to her former lord whom she faithlessly 
forsook, ii. 7. There in the time of punishment the Lord desires, 
as once in the wilderness, 1 to seek anew her love (ii. 14, what 
unfathomable condescension is implied in this repeated wooing of 
Israel's love by the Lord !) ; and when, as in the time of her first 

1 Cf. also ix. 10, xi. 1 ff., xii. 10. 


love, she joyfully .responds to Him, He will restore to her the 
promised land (ii. 1 5). Or, as it is said in iii. 5 : " Afterwards 
(when under the stress of exile they have come to reflection) the 
children of Israel shall return and seek Yahveh their God and David 
their king, and shall tremble at Yahveh and His goodness in the 
end of the days." They shall return to the legitimate ruling-house, 
to " their king David" as well as to the legal sanctuary. By 
this (as in Ezek. xxxiv. 23) is not meant the deported king, but 
the ruler of David's house at that time representing his rights 
and mercies. Nothing more precise, indeed, is said of this king. 
But at all events under his sway extraordinary salvation will be 
revealed in the last days. The passage has in view rather the 
Davidic house than the person of the king, like Amos ix. ; but 
it is far nearer the personal concentration of the Messianic 
promise than Amos. The mixture of feelings filling the return- 
ing penitents is beautifully described: Irresistibly drawn by 
fond desire, and yet trembling with a sense of their own un- 
worthiness (cf. XL 10), they will draw near to the Lord and His 
salvation, to the revelation of His goodness. 

Moreover, the final state of happiness is more fully described 
by the help of the comparison with the human marriage-covenant 
as one of complete inner and outer harmony between heaven and 
earth, God and His people. When the Church's first love to 
her God is again revived in the time of her purifying in the 
wilderness, she will call Him her consort (ii. 16 f.), not her 
Baal (lord). The name of Baal will not again be heard from 
her lips. Thus in delicate modesty she will avoid everything 
offensive to the Lord. Her heart belonging exclusively to Him, 
she will also study delicacy of speech, avoiding the ambiguity in 
the name given to God which has so often proved the bridge to 
apostasy. " My Baal " has an unsuspicious and reverent sound, 
but it may easily become a cloak of unfaithfulness. " My husband, 
my consort," expresses devotion as trustful as it is unreserved ; 
it excludes all dalliance with the multiform heathen " lords," and 
implies a bliss such as no heathen god can give. This bliss is 
expressed even in the outward aspect of the laud and the people's 
life : 

ii. 18. "And I make a covenant with them in that day, 
with the beast of the field and the birds of the air ami 
what creeps on the earth ; and bow and sword and war I 


will break out of the land, and will make them rest in 

The peace, the secure rest, vouchsafed to the people that 
belongs wholly to its Lord and God, is described on two sides. 
It will enjoy happy rest from beasts and men. For God com- 
mands the beasts, which may prove destructive to sinful men, 
to spare His own. This is expressed thus : " I make with 
them a covenant on behalf of men," i.e. a regulation which they 
must observe. 1 Three classes of beasts are named : wild beasts 
without, to which beasts of prey belong ; the birds above, among 
which also are many birds of prey ; and reptiles beneath, which 
include the cunning serpent. 

But as the Lord forbids the powers of nature to inflict injury, 
so also He wards off the attacks of men from His sanctified 
people. War will have an end in the laud. 2 God Himself 
shatters bow and sword and implement of war, and casts them 
out of the land. 3 Thus, in contrast with the perpetual readiness 
for war necessary at present, one will be able to give himself to 
the calm enjoyment of peace. This physiognomy of the final 
kingdom of God, according to which it is distinguished by a 
truce of nature and truce of nations, is further elaborated by 
Isaiah some decades later, in Tsa. ii. 2 ff., ix. 4, and elsewhere, 
truce of nations ; in xi. 6 ff., truce of nature. 

But this outer harmony of the last days has its inner ground 
in the sacred covenant of love then established by the Lord 
between Himself and His people, and become truly reciprocal. 

ii. 19 f. "And I will marry thee to me for ever; and will 
marry thee to me in righteousness and judgment and love and 
compassion, and will marry thee to me in stedfastness, and thou 
shalt know Yahveh." 

The true love-covenant belongs only to the future. The Lord 
as Bridegroom will marry* the Church as bride, of which He thrice 
gives assurance with solemn repetition. And this New Covenant 
shall not again be broken after brief duration ; it shall not be a 
merely outward one ; it shall no longer remain one-sided ; the 

1 Cf. Job v. 23 and p. 93. 

2 That the apparently heterogeneous TOrTO is to be taken thus, is proved by 
Hos. i. 7. 

* Used pregnantly : frangam e terra forfrangam et ejiciam e terra. 

said of the man who marries a woman (accus.), Deut. xx. 7, xxviii. 30. 


spiritual fellowship into which the Lord enters with His Church 
in imparting to it His own attributes secures to this covenant its 
inner truth and inviolable permanence. 

The divine attributes mediating the covenant, by the Church 
participating in them, are righteousness (P!*) an< ^ l ve 09?)- The 
former is exercised in judgment (BSITD), right utterance and 
normal action, the latter in displays of mercy (Q'orn). Both are 
attributes pertaining to God in the highest and fullest sense 
(note A), but cannot be wanting to His people, if His people are 
to be entirely one with their God. The two attributes are also 
so chosen that they describe what must adorn the Church as 
the Lord's bride, whereas in the Israel of the present their 
absence is conspicuous. They are God's communicative virtues, 
by which His union with the Church is effected. 1 At present Israel 
lacks these fundamental virtues of righteousness and love, 2 
because it stands in no spiritual fellowship with the Lord, no 
"knowledge of the Lord" 8 belongs to it. But then those divine 
attributes will be reflected in the Church, 4 by which the most inti- 
mate fellowship with Him is conditioned and indicated. Finally, 
this Xew Covenant is made n ^OX3 in stedfastness. Unchange- 
ableness, that ring holding together God's attributes, will also 
conclude the covenant with His people and secure its eternal 
duration. In sincere, immovable fidelity will God join His 
people to Himself, and this fidelity will be mutual. The 
description of this divine bridal-love reaches its climax in the 
clause : " Thou shalt know Yahveh." Knowing God is the chief 
condition on which the people can keep the covenant ; and at 
the same time such knowledge, as the mention at the close 
shows, is the highest fruit of obedience to God rendered from 
love. This verb JHJ elsewhere also denotes, as is well known, 
far more than a mere intellectual apprehending. It has been 
called a nosse cum affectu et effectu. It expresses the inner 
appropriation of something, and when a person is the object, 
appropriating insight into him, loving assimilation. So God 
knew Israel long ago (xiii. 5) ; when, now, on its part it knows the 

1 Xowack : "The gifts introduced by 2 are so to speak the bridal gifts, which 
Yahveh makes over to Israel, His wife, on the making of the New Covenant," is not 
quite pertinent. These attributes are not conceived as a gift by which the Lord 
would acquire a right to the Church. 

* iv. 1 f., T. 11, vi. 4 f., x. 4, 12, xii. 7. 3 iv. 1, v. 4. 

Cf. Ps. Ixxii. 1 ; Jer. xxiii. 5. 


Lord, it receives Him into its inmost heart. 1 Here, then, the 
end is reached, which God had in mind from the first in 
covenanting with sinful man perfect fellowship of life and love 
between Him and His Church on earth. Then begins complete 
harmony between heaven and earth. 

ii. 21 f. "And it shall come to pass in that day, when I 
shall answer, saith the Lord, I will answer the heavens and they 
shall answer the earth, and the earth shall answer the wheat and 
the new wine and the oil, and they shall answer Jezreel ; and I 
sow them to me in the land and have mercy on those without 
mercy, and say to those not my people : ' My people art thou ! ' 
And it shall say : ' My God ! '" 

This harmony is in contrast with the present, when disorders 
of various kinds appear in the economy of nature. Here one 
thing demands the other. Fruits demand sap from the earth, 
the earth rain from heaven, 2 the heaven clouds from God. So, 
finally, the asking and sighing of all creation turns upward to 
the Lord of life. When He is in the covenant, blessing streams 
upon all. His goodness makes one creature answer the demand 
of another ( n ^)> and thus no prayer remains unheard. Again, 
the glaring dissonances of the present turn into the opposite. 
The name Jezreel, which Israel had received (i. 4), in ominous 
recollection of Jehu's bloody deed, becomes of good omen, and 
signifies its new implanting in the Promised Land ; instead of 
Lo-Euhamah, as another child of the prophet is called, also repre- 
senting Israel, this people will then be called the Favoured one, 
to whom special compassion has been shown ; finally, the third 
will again receive the name ^V, " my people," properly belonging 
to Israel, but at present denied to it. God will again call Israel 
His people, and Israel, (here also the reciprocity is to be observed,) 
with full knowledge of what it says, will invoke Yahveh as its 
God. Already in the Pentateuch under Moses, God had defined 

1 The expression " to know the Lord " in this profound sense is a favourite phrase 
of this profoundly inward prophet and herald of divine-human love. 

2 The importance of rain in order to prosperity in the East is well known. 
W. M. Thomson, The Land and the Book, p. 91 : "In the East is a deep sense of 
uncertainty and of entire dependence for their daily bread on the showers of heaven, 
delayed nearly every year until much painful solicitude is felt by all classes. Very 
often there is a universal cry from man and beast and bird and burning sky and 
drooping fields, ere the Lord hears the heavens and the earth, hears the corn and 
wine and oil." 


the relation into which He will enter with this people thus : " It 
shall be to Him a people, and He will be to it a God " (cf. p. 128). 
In the time of consummation, this relation of possession shall be 
perfectly realized on both sides. 

Already in i. 10 the prophet has quite abruptly appended to 
the foregoing sentence of rejection a similar promise. Only 
afterwards comes the physical (ii. 6 ff., iii. 4) and ethical means 
(ii. 2, 7, 14, v. 15), by which the transition from a state of enmity 
to God to one of covenant with Him is brought about. In this 
unlooked-for announcing of the promise (i. 1 ff.) appears the un- 
fathomable mercy of God, which is the real ground of salvation. 

In the former passage the promise has more of a political 

i. 1 " And the number of the children of Israel shall be as the 

sand of the sea, which cannot be measured and numbered. And 

it shall come to pass instead of it being said to them, ' Ye are 

not my people,' one shall call them ' Sons of the living God.' 

11 And the sons of Judah and the sons of Israel shall 

assemble together, and shall appoint themselves one head 

and go up out of the land ; for great is the day of Jezreel." 

ii. 1 " Say to your brethren, ' My people,' and to your sisters, 

' Favoured.' " 

Despite all guilt and punishment, what God promised to 
Abraham remains sure, namely, the promise of a countless 
posterity (Gen. xxii. 17, xv. 5 ; cf. xxxii. 13). And as it was 
promised to the Father of the faithful that in his seed all nations 
should be blessed, this people cannot always remain a witness to 
the divine curse. As it now bears the stamp of estrangement 
from God, so shall it unmistakably bear the stamp of divine 
sonship. The Pentateuchal declaration, that God has received 
the whole people into the place of a son (Ex. iv. 22 ; cf. Hos. 
xi. 1), is here individualized : individual Israelites are sons of 
the God who by His revelation proves Himself living. 

The political consequence of this gracious act will be the 
ceasing of the present division of the Davidic kingdom l and the 
willing union of all the tribes under one head, of course under 
a prince of the heaven-chosen royal house 2 (iii. 5). God's people, 
countless as the sand by the sea, united under one head, will 
then go up from the land to Jezreel. By this inarch a military 

1 Zech. xi. 7, 14 : Ezek. xxxvii. 15 ff. 2 Cf. Amos ix. 11 ; Ezek. xxxiv. 23. 


advance is meant. The people will take position in the great plain, 
so often the scene where the fates have come to a bloody issue, 
and where, in particular, in the time of the Judges, Deborah and 
Gideon, the Lord by His hosts smote to the ground the superior 
might of the heathen. In this sense the day of Jezreel here 
is the day of reckoning with the heathen, when Israel will finally 
conquer, thus approving itself the people anew received into 
God's favour. 1 Thus the members of the nation shall then be 
greeted as belonging to and favoured of the Lord 2 (ii. 1). 

Hosea sees this glorious exaltation as something that can only 
follow on judgment and a protracted time of suffering (iii. 3), for 
the people were then quite incapable and unworthy of it. But 
he does not predict judgment as an unalterable fate. If the 
people repented, the Lord would certainly call them back to life 
from the death that had already partially overtaken them. Then 
the prophet (vi. 1 f.) dictates to them a healing, penitential 
prayer. As Joel summoned the Church to turn aside the ap- 
proaching day of doom by sincere, inward sorrow (ii. 12 f.), so 
also Hosea here and in xiv. 2 ff. points out the way of salvation, 
waiting to see whether his people will take to heart his words, 
or whether those words will only be received afterwards by a 
Church judged, exiled, slain ; cf. the summons (Isa. ii. 5). 
vi. 1 " Come, let us return to Yahveh, for He has torn and He 
will heal us. He has smitten and He will bind us up. 

2 He will make us live within two days, on the third day 

3 He will raise us up, that we may live before Him. And 
let us know hunt 3 after knowing, the Lord : Certain as the 
dawn is His rising, 4 And He will come to us as the rain- 
shower, as the latter rain which sprinkles the earth." 5 

1 Without warrant, Hitzig specializes the prophecy, urging the local expression. 
He understands it as if the prophet expected a great battle in the above valley 
against the Syrians, which did not happen. 

2 Here also the suffix in *y refers to God, not to the speaker greeting his brother 
as a countryman, which would amount to a mutual acknowledgment of Judah and 

3 The Greek S/alxs/v, like this PjTi, is a favourite word of Paul in the New Testa- 
ment (Rom. ix. 30 f. and elsewhere). 

* His rising (cf. fc^O^n HXV) is "fixed" i.e. His appearing is as positive as that 

of the dawn ; Ps. Ixxxix. 37. 

5 Ver. 1. We would use the hypothetical form : "Has He torn? then will He 
also heal ; has He smitten ?" etc. The omission of the copula in -rf is strange, but 


If the people turned its thoughts back to God, 1 and sought Him 
zealously and heartily (ver. 3), He would as certainly set aside the 
judgment as He brought it about, and, what is more, make Himself 
known, appear with His revelation of grace as certainly and uni- 
formly as the most regular phenomena of nature occur. But of special 
importance is the truth uttered in ver. 2 : Israel must die in order 
to live ; really it is found at present in a state of death, and can 
only be rescued from it by a creative act of God. We find this 
idea developed more copiously in Ezekiel (xxxvii.), in whose time, 
indeed, its state of death was far more obvious, the bones of the 
Church lying scattered on the earth. And as there God's omni- 
potence is dwelt on, which is able to make even the dead live 
again, so in the present passage, where it is expressed by the 
confident assurance U'>rv, and especially by the indication of time, 
which is clearly meant to be the shortest space conceivable. 
Within two days 2 it will come to pass in unexampled fashion 
that divine life will come again into the people, so that on the 
third day by God's gracious working it will rise again to a holy, 
blessed life in God's sight. It is not really a rising of buried 
bodies that is meant, but a work according to the prophet's con- 
viction no less miraculous than this, and possible to omnipotence 
alone : The raising a people from spiritual death, and from a 
bodily state no better and really no other than death, 3 to true life 
through God and before God, a life having its spiritual roots in 
God, and drawing from Him its outward success. 

For the rest, the discourses of Hosea (chaps, iv.-xiv.) give no 
essentially new information about the future of God's kingdom. 
They expound more fully the contents of chaps, i. iii. Above 
all, the hopeless corruption of the people in its unfaithfulness to 
Yahveh is laid bare, from ix. 10, with elegiac glances at the 
period of first love. Having shown itself incorrigible, Ephraim- 

was necessary to preserve the perspicuity of the periods. In ver. 3 also the first 
words give hypothetically the presupposition of the sequel : "If we hunt after His 
knowledge, His rising is certain." 

1 "n ^S 3V^ or mrV ly, xiv. 2, or with 3, xii. 7, is like the N. T. ^try:v. 
xi. 5 complains that this repentance did not take place. 

8 JO in D^D'D is partitive. A distinction is made, chiefly indeed a formal one, 
in the vivid description, between the making alive which falls on the second, and 
the raising from the grave which falls on the third day. 

3 Cf. xiii. 1, Ephraim, the most powerful tribe, died, said in reference to the time 
of the Judges. 


Israel goes into exile to Egypt and Assyria, 1 the lands with which 
it carries on dalliance, promising itself help from them. 2 Still 
the Lord in His unfathomable mercy cannot resolve to give them 
up to the doom of destruction for ever, as once the cities of the 
vale of Siddim, xi. 8 ff. 

xi. 8 " How should I give thee up, Ephraim, surrender thee, 
Israel ? How should I make thee like Admah, set thee 
as Zeboim ? My heart turns within me, my compassions are 
9 excited together (note B). I will not execute my fierce 
wrath, nor again destroy Ephraini. For I am God, not man, 
1 holy in thy midst, and will not yield to passion. They shall 
go after Yahveh as after a roaring lion ; for He will roar, and 
the children from the sea shall tremble, they shall flutter as 
birds from the land of Egypt, and as doves from the land of 
Assyria, and I will settle them in their houses." 
Divine grace reaches beyond the judgment ; here also behind 
the exile the prophet's gaze sees his people returning home. From 
the midland sea, therefore from Javan, where many prisoners are 
already found (Obad. ver. 20 ; Joel iii. 6), from Assyria and Egypt, 
whither soon many will be led, the Lord will call and bring them 
home. His call will be so powerful, that those alien to Him 
both outwardly and inwardly, will be irresistibly drawn by it, and 
will render obedience, partly from fear of the terrible might 
He displays, partly from joy at His salvation and the love 
breathing in it, and moving Him to seek His people again. 
This mixture of feelings (as in iii. 5) is expressed in the beauti- 
ful figure of the migratory birds and wandering doves, flying 
from distant lands to their native seats, at first anxiously flutter- 
ing, and then gaining confidence and nestling in their former 

The difficult passage (xiii. 12 ff.) affirms that Ephraim will 
actually die, and yet the Lord will cherish thoughts of grace 
towards it (cf. vi. 1 ff.). The trial of Ephraim is closed. 
The judge is about to pronounce the fatal sentence. In the 
case of a hardened, unwise people a passing visitation is use- 
less. Figuratively expressed : When the pains of one in travail 
overtake Ephraim, he is an unwise son who does not present him- 
self at the opening of the womb. By this obstinacy he makes a 
happy, easy birth impossible. So the people in its sufferings 

1 viii. 13, ix. 3, 6 ; cf. x. 6, further xi. 5, 11. 2 vii. 11, viii. 9, xiv. 3. 


is compared to one in travail ; while in so far as it frustrates a 
salutary result of its sufferings, it is like a child refusing to come 
to the birth. Thus pain and suffering fail to bring about a saving 
repentance. The people must fall a prey to death. 

xiii. 14. "From the hand of the underworld I will deliver 
them, from death redeem them. Where are thy plagues, death ? 
where is thy sting, underworld ? Repentance is hidden from 
my eyes." 

If the first two clauses of the verse are read interrogatively, 
the passage is all rebuke, condemnation without hope. " Should 
I deliver them from the power of Hades ? Nay, forward, ye 
powers of death, I have no mercy ! " But the interrogative 
acceptation is without support and little probable in point of 
form. As to meaning, it is in contradiction to the character of 
Hosea's prophecy, which always behind judgment discloses a 
prospect of redemption. The sense, therefore, rather is : " Only 
from the underworld will I redeem them." For this reason also 
?W stands here before rno. That God will redeem His people at 
last is certain to Hosea. But it is clear to him that no mere 
passing, remedial suffering must come first, but the radical judg- 
ment of death. Thus only from the realm of the power to which 
it is now handed over will the Lord redeem His people. The 
following apostrophe : " Where are thy plagues, death ? " might 
perhaps be understood by the analogy of ver. 10 as meaning, 
" Where, then, remains thy power ? Thou wilt have none over 
them when I redeem them." But this does not suit the close of the 
verse and the connection with what follows ; for the rendering, 
" Death shall hide in penitence from my sight, death shall grieve for 
having attacked my people," is not good sense. 1 Rather the phrase 
" to hide from God's sight" means, in reference to a decree, that it 
does not find favour with Him, is not acceptable to Him, is not to 
His mind. Dnb, "repentance," is formed from the niphal in meaning, 
it is used of God in Gen. vi. 6. God's fatal sentence is irrevocable. 
To its execution the plagues of death are summoned, i.e. those 
which deliver men to death ; the " sting of the underworld " is 
the means by which it brings men into its realm ; thus they will 
strain every nerve to extinguish the prosperity of Ephraim. Only 
this extinction is not a hopeless one, since, according to vi. 2, 

1 Just as little the reading of Hitzig, QH3, instead of Qnb. 


the Lord both can and will raise His people even from a state of 
death. He will one day do it, because His love cannot finally 
depart from His people (xi. 8). And according to vi. 1 ff., He 
would do it without delay, if His people only turned to Him 
sincerely. Hence at the close of his book the prophet once more, 
as in chap, vi., addresses it in winsome tones, putting in its mouth 
right, God-pleasing desires, xiv. 2-4. Let it heartily turn to 
God, and, beseeching forgiveness, look for salvation and help from 
Him alone, and He will "heal its backsliding," and be to His 
people a fertilizing dew, that will breathe into it new life, making 
it fair as the lily and firm as Lebanon. Then only will it expe- 
rience God's eternal truth and goodness. Still, the last verse 
reminds us, wisdom and docility are necessary, if God's ways are 
to be understood to one's own salvation. 

This truth escaped Hosea's people. Superficially regarded, his 
work was a failure. Ephraim had to descend into the jaws of 
the underworld. But all the more precious was and is the testi- 
mony left behind by him, drawn from the depths of the Spirit 
who spans time and eternity. The fate of the nation has stamped 
on his word the seal of attestation. The Lord cast it off, to seek 
it again and win back its love. The return which Hosea pro- 
mised after the exile fell short of the prophecy. Judah was 
indeed really cured of idolatry ; but the conversion which then 
took place was not of the inner character meant by the prophet. 
Even in outward respects the people could not attain the glory 
promised. The Davidic monarchy blossomed no more ; the ban 
was not wholly abrogated, nay, it soon became the universal lot 
of Israel and Judah, and lasts to this day. But to the Israel 
that truly turned to the Lord His salvation (nits) was revealed out of 
David's house (iii. 5) in undreamt-of blessedness. And still we are 
not at the end of the days. The call of God's unwearied grace to 
this people continues. With the apostle (Eom. xi.) we await the day 
when, after long blindness, it will come to itself, and, making Hosea's 
motto (vi. 1 ff., xiv. 2 ff.) its own, do homage to its lawful King. 

Hosea's profound gaze saw that the present form of the 
theocracy must be dissolved in judgment and the nation pass 
through the ordeal of death before God's true kingdom could 
find place. But the Lord will call His Church to life from a 
state of death within "three days," as soon as the right attitude of 
heart to Him is present. To this alludes the saying of Jesus 



(John ii. 19), which also does not apply in the first instance to a 
buried human body, but to the temple standing before the e\> s, 
the embodiment of the 0. T. Church of God. The sign givt u 
by Jesus to the Jews is that, when they in their blindness 
shall soon give up this temple to destruction, He Himself in the 
briefest space will recall to life the Church of God and rebuild 
the temple in purer and truer shape. Yet the evangelist is 
not wrong in remarking (ver. 21) : "He said this of the temple 
of His body." For between the body of Christ and the Church 
of God there is an inner and outer connection. Christ's body 
was the perfected temple, in which God had taken up His 
abode. In laying hands on this sacred body, the Jews devoted 
their own temple and nation to destruction. And when 
Christ arose bodily on the third day the new Church of God 
was raised to life ; for its Head was alive. This connection 
is indicated symbolically by Christ rising just on the " third 
day" and thus literally fulfilling the saying in Hos. vi. 2. 
For not merely Jonah's type (Matt. xii. 40), but certainly 
also this oracle of Hosea belongs to those sayings of Scripture, 
according to which the Messiah was to rise precisely on the 
third day as Jesus Himself taught. 1 We see here again the 
literal fulfilment of a declaration seemingly accidental in its 
particular form, something which seemed a figurative utterance 
passing into outward actuality. For there obtains here an 
intimate connection between details, that excludes chance, and a 
mighty action and reaction of the spiritual and the physical, 
such as forbids their separation. 

But Hosea not merely saw that by God's infinite mercy a new 
Church of the future must be miraculously called into life, he 
was also granted a profound glance into the hidden glory of this 
future Church of God. To him, the " Minnesinger among the 
prophets," as Delitzsch once called him, that unfathomable mercy 
appeared the deepest mystery of God's ways ; the blissful love- 
communion between the Lord and His Church, adorned in bridal 
beauty and wholly and solely devoted to him, appeared the 
ultimate aim of those ways. In this issue only will God's 
decree be fully and purely realized ; thus only will full 
harmony between heaven and earth, nature and man, be brought 

1 Mutt. xvii. 23, xx. 19, xxvii. 63 ; Mark viii. 31, ix. 31, x. 34 ; Luke ix. 22 
xviii. 33, xxiv. 7, 46. 


about. We know who changed this promise into glad tidings. No 
fanatical audacity led the prophet to such lofty utterances, a bright 
ray of the coming sun illumined him. The Son of God, in whom 
the love-communion between God and man is seen in perfection, 
is security that such is the aim of God's ways with mankind. 
And the world's history will not end until this aim is reached. 

NOTE A. As Kautzsch (Die Derivate des Stammes p*TC im A. T. 
Sprachgebrauch, 1881) has proved, the root meaning of the word 
pi>' is that of conformity to norm, righteous character. Used of 
man, it denotes agreement with the norm given by God, and is 
therefore from the first broader than the juristic idea of righteous- 
ness. Still the latter is, of course, included, and stands in the 
foreground where the matter in question is national life and 
government and BBB>p is spoken of. When the word is used of 
God, the meaning cannot be that He is subject to a moral norm, 
since this would be opposed to the absoluteness of the 0. T. 
idea of God. Where God's P"t is praised, it refers to the agree- 
ment of His action with the norm established and revealed by 
Himself. But God's normal root-relation to man is that of good- 
will, the goodness of the Creator to His creature (not merely 
to Israel). This does not seem sufficiently taken into account 
in the treatise referred to in explaining passages like Isa. xli. 2. 
Certainly in presence of sin this righteous character of God must 
become j udicial righteousness ; the latter is a specification of the 
idea. In reference to the covenant-people (or the good man) that 
divine " conformity to norm " again becomes grace, because the dis- 
order is abolished, the normal relation restored, to which, of course, 
God appears as one who acts in harmony with His proclaimed 
covenant. In the present passage, then (cf. Kautzsch, p. 35), P*1X 
and DQSJra are by no means synonymous with ion and D'om ; nor 
do they refer merely to God's punitive righteousness, either in the 
form of a purifying judgment on Israel or a punitive judgment 
on its foes; but they apply to God's inalienable righteousness, 
which He will preserve, nay, first fully reveal, in this covenant. 
God will join Himself to Israel in accordance with His true 
nature, which is grace; but He will endure this lies in pis and DatTD 
in distinction from ion and D'nm no violation of His holiness. 

NOTE B. The root meaning of this "ilMJ is perhaps : to kindle, 
become hot ; cf. Nowack (Comm. p. 208). The D'piru, emotions of 
sympathy (like D^m, Gen. xliii. 30), swell into burning pain when 
a father or mother sees a child suffer. This is here transferred to 
God, who cannot bear to look on the suffering of His people. The 
prophet, who sees God's union with His people under the figure 
of holy love, does not shrink from anthropopathy. How such 
transferences of human affections to God are to be justified 


according to the Bible itself, ver. 9 shows. God's love and 
holiness can forgive and forget, for it is free from all passion even 
in its wrath. 

28. Zechariah ix.-xi. (note A). 

The prophecy of Zechariah ix.-xi. (issuing from a prophet who 
appeared in the northern kingdom not long after Hosea) also 
announces judgment in general terms, in such a form, however, 
that the promise of a future, brought about by God and rich in 
grace, forms the bright background. Gradual advance is to be 
observed in the prophecy. The first discourse (chap, ix.) 
announces the divine judgment to the nations of the world 
hateful neighbours ; whereas the glorious sun rises on Israel in 
Jerusalem, whither the seer would fain turn the gaze of the 
whole people. But before the true king can come to rule there, 
the Lord must first hold judgment upon Israel's kings and leaders, 
and in His visitation carry them away into exile among the 
heathen (chap. x.). Finally, in chap. xi. the prophet relates how 
his efforts to gather under his leading the community of the 
quiet in the land, the last remnant worthy of preservation, 
miscarried in consequence of their obstinacy and fickleness. 
Then he gave up the two ends he was seeking, the wellbeing 
of the Church and the fraternizing of Judah and Ephraim ; where- 
upon at once the divine ban compelling the nations to spare 
Israel was cancelled. But even this manifest visitation, con- 
firming the power of the prophet's words, only led the sheep of 
his flock to make him an unworthy return, on which account a 
cruel shepherd shall rule over them instead of the Lord. 

If much in this prophetic passage will always remain obscure 
in consequence of our defective knowledge of the history of the 
times, an incontestable importance is secured to it by its 
Messianic import. If our chronological view is correct, it is the 
first passage, at least among extant prophetic writings, in which 
the future human representative of the divine kingly dignity is 
described in his personal characteristics ; whereas in Amos and 
Hosea he was presented only under a dynastic aspect. This is 
done in the glorious description of chap, ix., which is brilliantly 
set off by its contrast with the heathen world under condemnation. 
Whilst amid universal astonishment wealth vanishes from Tyre, 
its king from Gaza, their inhabitants from Ashkelon and Ashdod, 


the destined king enters Zion with all the insignia of peace, of 
divine favour and human homage, 
ix. 9 " Exult greatly, daughter of Zion ! Shout, daughter of 

Jerusalem ! l 
Behold, thy king comes to thee 2 just and having 

salvation is he, 
Lowly and riding on an ass and on a colt, the foal of 

she-asses. 3 
10 And I will exterminate the chariot-team from Ephraiiu 

and the steed from Jerusalem, 

And the battle-bow is exterminated and He will pro- 
claim peace to the nations, 
And His dominion shall go from sea to sea and from 

the river to the ends of the earth." 

Zion may justly appear in jubilant chorus like a festive virgin. 
For her King comes, no strange conqueror, but her native lord, 
evidently of David's house ; the true ruler destined for her by 
God, whom she has long missed, comes. He comes with every 
virtue belonging to the Lord's Anointed, a perfect son of David. 
Foremost among his beneficent attributes stands righteousness, as 
the cardinal virtue of a ruler, and the chief condition of his 
acceptableness to God, and also of the welfare of the people he 
has to judge, according to Ps. Ixxii. 1 ff., cf. Isa. xi. 5. As a just 
ruler he enjoys God's salvation and help, which tends again to 
his people's good. Such is the meaning of yw), not active, 
aa>a)v (LXX., Targ., Pesch., Vulg.), which must have been expressed 
by the hiphil, as God Himself is called JT^to P*w, Isa. xlv. 21. 
The participle niphal means one who experiences deliverance,'! 
help* namely, constantly from God ; to him is given what the 
hosanna invokes from God for the Messianic King. Receiving 
the divine salvation, he also dispenses it to his people, to whom 
he condescends in gracious humility. 

1 ji'VVQ is genitive of apposition. By a personification common in Eastern 
lands the city herself is represented as a female, here as a daughter, elsewhere as a 
mother. Thus the population is perhaps not distinguished from the city as its daughter. 

2 7p = 7] ySj not dat. comuiodi. 

3 The seer's gaze rests with emotion on the animal, hence the second pleonastic 
parallel hemistich : on a colt, the foal of she-asses. The latter is the plural of 
species : "a foal such as she-asses bear." 

4 The Arabic .4^2X0 victorious, fortunate (Steiner), is analogous. 


This is seen in his outward appearance, his entire bearing, 
which is described as *W, properly " bowed," hence usually " lowly, 
mean, mournful, wretched," applied to subjects suffering under 
oppression, Ps. Ixxii. 2 f. ; Zech. xi. 7. This one word charac- 
terizes in a remarkable way a ruler making a triumphal entry. 
Forswearing royal pomp, he puts himself, in his humility and 
meekness, on a level with the meanest subject. 1 A feature of 
this condescending modesty of bearing is further indicated : He 
makes his entry into the royal city on an ass. The ass indeed 
is not a contemptible animal in the East ; in the time of the 
Judges, nobles rode on it in peace and war; but since Solo- 
mon's days the warlike horse had taken its place, and no king 
was ever seen entering his capital otherwise than on a proud 
steed or steed - drawn chariot. 2 For the most renowned of 
kings, true to the saying of the ancient law, to make his entry 
on a lowly, peaceful colt, is something unheard of, but of 
pregnant meaning. He will not acquire reputation by outward 
splendour and might of arms, but will win hearts and gladden 
Zion by lowliness and condescension. Nor will he gain vic- 
tories abroad by shedding blood like David, or buy martial 
glory with his people's lives, but will conquer the earth by 
the power of the Divine Spirit, and with weapons of peace 
erect an empire of peace. That the ass here (cf. Gen. xlix. 
11) is to be regarded as an animal of peace, is clear enough 
from ver. 10, where the destruction of horses as animals of 
war is announced. Instruments of war are to vanish altogether. 
This is promised in Isa. ix. US' also. But what the present 
passage, from which Micah v. 9 perhaps arose, specially points 
out is, that Ephraim and Judah-Jerusalem will be weaponless. 
Not with fleshly arm will its king take the field, he will rule 
the nations by peaceful words. DW "tai is not to " command " 
peace (Hitzig), which "2n never means, but to " proclaim, speak 
peace." His simple word suffices to establish and preserve 
peace; cf. Isa. ii. 4. As Messianic prophecy here rises to 
the height of consummation in reference to the spiritual 

1 The relation of jy to liy usually is that the former applies to a state of abase- 
ment, the latter to the disposition answering to it ("still, modest innocence, 
gentleness "). In the present passage also the first denotes the outward habitus, while 
the second gives security for the corresponding disposition. 

* Cf. Jer. xvii. 25, xxii. 4. 


nature of the means by which that royal power will be set 
up and guided, so also as regards extent a universal kingdom 
of the Son of David is foretold. This is also implied, as we 
saw, in the idea of a divinely-anointed covenant king, current 
since David's days. He will reign " from sea to sea, and from 
the river to the ends of the earth." This definition of limit, 
taken from Ps. Ixxii., is meant to abolish all limits, as plainly 
appears from Ps. Ixxii. 11, 19. The sea (Mediterranean) was 
the western, the Euphrates the eastern, limit of the Solomonic 
kingdom. From the existing western limit it will extend to 
the sea again (the Hebrews conceiving the earth as encircled 
by seas), and from the extreme eastern limit then in force to 
the ends of the earth westward, where the earth is lost in the 
archipelago. But what in Solomon's days was a pious wish, fed 
by the prophetic Messiah-idea, grows now in the prophet's 
mouth into a categorical prediction in relation to the perfected 
Messiah of the future. 

But if his rule brings peace and salvation to all nations, 
much more will it do so to the covenant-people, whose captives 
then return and receive double recompense for all the wrong 
they have suffered, ix. 11 f. Their redemption is effected 
"through the blood of thy covenant." The gracious covenant 
made at Sinai and solemnly sealed with blood secures to the 
people of God that their captives, dwelling far off (cf. x. 8 ff.) 
but not abandoned, nay, called by a beautiful turn " prisoners of 
hope," shall regain freedom. The Lord Himself will lead His 
people to victory against their foreign tyrants (cf. x. 5 ff.), the 
latter being neither Assyria nor Babylon nor Persia, but the 
children of Javan, as in Joel iii. 6 ; cf. Obad. ver. 20. The 
Lord will set free the flock of His people and guard like the 
crown-jewels glittering on His territory, so that a period of joyous 
security and prosperous growth in the sacred land is granted it. 

The transition from the oppression of Israel by the heathen 
to this state of peace (ix. 13 ff.) is set forth, with a bold- 
ness rare even in the prophets, as a bloody conflict, the Lord 
Himself, armed with Judah and Ephraim as bow and quiver, 
storming along as champion, hovering over the warriors of His 
people, and causing them to trample down all weapons and drink 
blood in full draughts. We have here a characteristic proof that 
the prophetic oracles are to be adjusted together and are mutually 


complementary (see p. 32). The prophet who in the same 
chapter gives so peaceful a picture of the final conqueror and 
ruler cannot mean that the earth will be subjected to the Lord 1 > y 
the martial exploits of His people. But a fearful conflict must be 
fought and streams of blood must flow before the world's resistance 
is subdued. The Lord will fight out this conflict victoriously and 
tread down all the enemy's power. This prospect is a necessary 
complement to the one disclosed in ix. 9 ff. 

As relates to the latter prospect, a word is required about its 
fulfilment, not merely because Matt. xxi. 4, 5 and John xii. 
14-16 say that this oracle was fulfilled in a specific incident, 
but because it is well adapted to illustrate the connection of 
prophecy and fulfilment. The ideas here put forth Jesus 
Christ realized in a perfect manner, coming as He did in unique 
dignity and lowliness to set up His Father's kingdom among 
His people, and transforming the world by word alone, a word 
bringing true peace. The great paradox lying in the outward 
lowliness of this supreme monarch has been already hinted by 
the prophet. But is the form of his description non-essential, 
fortuitous ? * The N. T. fulfilment teaches us otherwise. The 
lowliness and dignity, mysteriously interlacing in this oracle, are 
no less strangely blended in an event of the life of Jesus, which 
gives the speaking counterpart of this figurative language : in His 
entry into Jerusalem when the people did homage to Him as 
their king, whilst He entered on the modest animal of peace, not 
without bearing the woe of His people. Here, too, while the 
literal coincidence is not the chief thing, just as little ought it to 
be disregarded. It is a divine thought uttered in the prophetic 
word and finding embodiment in the after history. The exact 
coincidence is meant by a higher divine intention to make known 
the unity of the divine plan. In the present case this agreement 
is also a revealing of the consciousness of Jesus. In choosing 
this form of entry the Lord made Himself known with all possible 
plainness as King, and thus received on His way to most shameful 
suffering the homage due to Him alone. 

The New Testament has also found a Messianic prophecy in 
Zech. xi., which, although not immediately, yet by means of 
types, stands in real connection with the Messiah. After the 
Lord had announced in chap. x. that the time of victory and free- 

1 See p. 32. 


dom for Israel could only come when He had assumed the lead 
and arranged the government of the nation altogether after His 
mind, we learn in chap. xi. that He was beginning in fact to exercise 
the office of shepherd (ix. 16), that He set aside in brief space 
bad rulers by the word of His prophet, and gave the latter charge 
to assume the guidance of the people in His name. It seems 
that the prophet exercised this guidance a long time, in what 
form we do not know. At all events the poor and defenceless, 
the quiet in the land, joined themselves to him, having acquired 
confidence in his word. He tended the sheep committed to him 
with two staves Dp and Ey?'V " delight" and " confederacy "; the 
former denoting the wellbeing and happiness of the people, 
which this good shepherd had in view, whilst bad shepherds cared 
only to despoil them, the latter, according to ver. 14, denoting 
the brotherhood, the close union of Ephraim with Judah the 
1 irother-kingdom, which this theocratic policy strove after in order 
to conduct the whole nation back again to the legitimate house of 
David. At all events this original representation of his work by 
two shepherd-staves intimates more than a political programme 
which he had followed. He acted with prophetic inspiration and 
authority. The staves are symbols of the power he wielded in 
his capacity of God's representative ; hence the breaking of the 
staves (vers. 10, 14) had a perilous consequence partially under- 
stood at once (ver. 10). It meant that the prophetico-theocratic 
government was not of long duration. Shepherd and flock were 
weary of each other, so that he no longer felt called to guard 
them from destruction. When he sought his release from the 
Church, he put it to the Church whether it thought his service 
worthy of reward or not. It then weighed to him thirty shekels 
of silver. This seems to refer to an actual incident unknown to 
us. The Church professed to be fulfilling all righteousness in 
thus paying God's prophet and dismissing him. " Then said the 
Lord to me : Cast it to the potter, the valuable price at which 
I was valued by them." It is clear, according to this passage, 
that the Lord considers Himself dismissed by the people in the 
person of His representative, and regards His own merits, nay, 
His own person, as thus estimated. The WJvffr? intimates with 
what contempt the " glorious price," ironically so called, is regarded 
by God. It was the sum paid for a slave (Ex. xxi. 32) ! 

1 Plural of abstraction, 


Even without the evangelist's express declaration, Matt. 
xxvii. 9 f., to every one who believes in a divine connection in 
the great as in the little events of sacred history, what here befell 
a prophet not more fully known to us is a significant type. For it 
was just the fate of Him who could call Himself the Good Shepherd, 
and who like none else had tended the little ones of the people 
in God's stead with loyal devotion and divine authority. In 
Him as in none else Israel rejected God Himself, and even His 
price was assessed at thirty silver pieces. But Matt, xxvii. 9 
alludes to a second detail in the history which recalls the 
prophecy, and so must cast light on the import of the treachery. 1 
It is the phrase "^'rr^N. The meaning of the Hebrew phrase is 
certainly open to dispute. If the word is read participially and 
understood as elsewhere of a potter, it probably means that the 
money is to be used indeed for divine worship, the Lord claims 
the reward as His own, but for its lowest offices, namely, for 
providing the earthen vessels used in the neighbourhood of the 
temple in great numbers for cooking the sacrificial meals. With 
this Matthew connects the peculiar circumstance, that Judas' 
reward came " to the potter," i.e. was paid for a piece of land 
called a " potter's field," which was applied to the meanest 
service, the burying of strangers. This parallel assumes the correct- 
ness of the reading and the reference of ivvn ta to a potter. 
Matthew, translating freely, has more closely determined this 
indefinite statement, ei<? rov dypov TOV /cepa/ie&>9. Another ancient 
interpretation, with which most moderns agree, in any case deserves 
all attention : " The word means rather the temple-treasure or 
treasurer." 2 According to the context of the Hebrew passage, this 
is neither impossible nor improbable. The casting into the trea- 
sure, by which, of course, the temple-treasure is to be understood 
(as the prophet himself adds : " I cast them into the house of the 
Lord, into the treasure "), would declare in the strongest manner 
that the Lord regarded the reward as given to Himself. The 

1 In thinking that the parallel must be limited in the sense of Matthew to the 
purchase of a potter's field, Steinmeyer (Leidensgeschichtc, p. 106) too much isolates 
the parallel between prophecy and fulfilment. This local detail, taken along with 
the amount of the price, is rather meant to suggest who was here sold for money. 

2 So the Targum : N^ncs, treasurer; Peschito : "jl A . n. treasury; Kimchi : 

n^V = "WK treasurer. Others take it as another form of 1V1S, treasure, or a 
copyist's error arising out of the latter. 


confusion in sound of K with ^ in -iwn for "unsn between two 
vowels is easily comprehensible. 1 This confusion would then 
early bring about the exchange as if the word came from "UP, 
Jingcre ; so already in the LXX., who translate et9 TO ^(ovevrrjpiov, 
" into the smelting furnace." What especially favours this view is 
the circumstance that the phrase, " to the potter," would almost 
necessarily require some explanation or reason in the context. 
Matthew follows the text as it was understood in his days, finding 
in it an outward sign for his contemporaries. While we ought 
neither to stumble at this outward detail, nor overvalue it, the 
citation in Matthew otherwise reminds us of the human imper- 
fection of the sacred letter; for this prophecy is ascribed to 
Jeremiah instead of Zechariah, perhaps in confusion with Jer. 
xviii. 1 if., where the potter plays a different part. Thus it is 
questionable whether we have to do here with an inexact citation 
of the evangelist or an error of a copyist, or whether the state- 
ment arose in some other way. 2 Although, according to the more 
probable reading, an outward handle by which the evangelist takes 
hold of this oracle and seeks to make it intelligible to his gene- 
ration falls away for us, Zech. xi. remains a prelude of the 
rejection of the Good Shepherd, in whose person the Lord Him- 
self fed His people ; and instead of ascribing the Judas-reward, 
with Strauss, 3 to fiction, we see in the thirty silver pieces an outward 
sign stamped, not by the evangelist, but by the finger of God, on 
the sacred history (note B). 

NOTE A. A section of the book, now united with the post- 
exilian Zechariah, and probably owing its origin to a younger 
contemporary of Hosea in the Assyrian period, has many points of 
contact with Hosea's book. We therefore treat of it here. In 
favour of separating these oracles from the post-exilian Zech. i.-viii., 
we appeal less than others have done to the difference in style and 
outer prophetic dress, or in the circle of conceptions and ideas, in 
which the parts of the book in question move. On the other hand, 
decisive importance seems to us to belong to the pre-exilian impress 
marking the circumstances of the prophet, ix.-xi. Among the 
menacing foes of Israel rebuked by the prophet appear (as in Joel 
and Amos) Syria, Phoenicia, Philistia, whose almost autonomous 

1 Cf. y<\i for JNyri, 1 Sam. xxii. 18. 

2 On this point Luther expresses himself more freely than some modern theologians, 
as Kliefoth, Bohl. See Kohler, Sackarja, ii. 166 f. 

b Leben Jem, 1836, ii. 395 f. 


cities (Damascus, Tyrus, Sidon, Ascalon, Gaza, Ekron, Ashdod) are 
in opposition to Jerusalem. Egypt and Assyria are mentioned as 
lands whither God will send His people into banishment (x. 9 f.), 
exactly as in Hos. xi. 11, cf. Isa, vii. 18 ; Javan, as the land where 
many captives already pine at a distance from home, ix. 13, as in 
Joel iii. 6. See p. 203, 219. As consequently the outer political 
situation appears much more that of Hosea than post-exilian, so the 
inner one is the same. 1 Chap. ix. 8 does not necessarily imply the 
destruction of the temple ; it applies much better to such plunder- 
ing of the temple as had often occurred even before the Assyrian 
age. But not merely the southern, even the northern kingdom, 
Ephraim, seems still existing. For not merely is it remembered 
as in Zech. viii. 13, to which Hengstenberg appeals, or a fut un- 
assured to it as in Ezek. xxxvii. 15-28, but passages like ix. 10 (13), 
x. 6 f., and xi. 14, assume the existence of this kingdom as a present 
pow r er. There are already many captives in the far heathen 
country, while a more general exile only impends, x. 2, 9. The 
heathen pest of oracle-gods (Teraphim), soothsayers, and interpreters 
of dreams (x. 2) is still in full force as in Hos. iii. 4, whereas after 
the exile the nation is seen to be cured of it. That the prophet 
moves artificially in an " archaic schematism," describes the foes of 
God's kingdom with pre-exilian names, characterizes the sins of 
later times metaphorically as " idolatry," are unsatisfactory sup- 
positions, by which some have tried to render the post-exilian 
origin possible. 2 

If asked what was the occasion of the oracle ix.-xi. having been 
ascribed to the post-exilian Zechariah, we should point especially 
to the similarity of ix. 9 to ii. 10. Still Berthold's conjecture, that 
the author of chap. ix.-xi. may also have borne the name Zechariah 
and been identical with the one named Isa, viii. 2 (cf. 2 Chron. 
xxvi. 5), does not deserve the contemptuous dismissal it received 

1 In face of these instances the proofs of the dependence of this prophet on Ezekiel, 
Micah, Jeremiah, etc. , which Stade has recently tried to make good (Ztitechr. fur 
A. T. Wissemchaft, 1881, Heft 1), seem to us unconvincing. On the contrary, we 
think the origination of the oracles Zech. ix.-xi. in such patchwork, as Stade sup- 
poses, impossible. 

2 The post-exilian origin is maintained by Jahn, Kb'ster, Stahelin, Umbreit, 
Hengstenberg, de Wette (in later editions of his Introd. to the, 0. T.), Hofmann, 
Kbhler, Keil, Kliefoth, Delitzsch (Messianic Prophecies, p. 99 ff. ), Stade, An/any 
des dritten Jahrhunderts vor Chriato, etc. (similarly already Vatke, Gramberg). On 
the other hand, the second part of Zechariah (ix.-xiv.) is regarded as pre-exilian (to 
some extent with a further distinction of the authors of ix.-xi. and xii.-xiv.) by 
Bertholdt, Rosenmiiller, Hitzig, Knobel, Maurer, Ewald, Bleek, v. Ortenberg (Die 
Bestandtheile, des Baches Sacharja, 1859), Schrader (Einleit. von de Wette, 8th ed.), 
Riehm (Messianic PropJiecy, p. 129), Steiner (Hitzig's Kleinen Proplieten, 4th ed. ), 
H. Schultz (.4. T. Theologie, 2nd ed. p. 198), E. Reuss (Gesch. der heil. Schrift 
des A. Testaments, i. 266 f.). 


from Ewald. It is especially favoured by the circumstance that 
that friend of Isaiah also had a Berechiah for father. Cf. Bleek's 
conjecture (Einleit. in das A. T., 4th ed. p. 449). This prophet, 
according to his prophecy very probably a Judsean who, like Amos, 
had betaken himself to the northern kingdom for the sake of his 
work there (x. 4 ff.), must in this case have returned to Jerusalem 
and reached a great age. His oracles testify to a movement, due to 
prophetic impulse, which had gained ground in the northern king- 
dom amid the sanguinary confusion of the eleven years' anarchy 
that intervened after Jeroboam II.'s death (783), but was of 
short duration. The bad shepherd, who is announced in chap. xi. 
to the nation that despises the guidance of its God, is probably 
Menahem. 1 The three shepherds, whom the prophet set aside by 
divine authority in a month, were three rulers or pretenders of the 
anarchical period, most probably Shallum, to whom only a month's 
government is ascribed (2 Kings xv. 13 f.), his predecessor 
Zechariah, and a third, unnamed, who had acquired a momentary 
position of authority. 

NOTE B. Before leaving the prophets who laboured in the 
kingdom of Ephraim during the gradual rise of the Assyrian power, 
we mention also the prophet Jonah, of whom a highly pregnant 
story is told us, whilst no epoch-making prophecies come to us 
from him. We only hear (2 Kings xiv. 25) that he foretold the 
restoring of the limits of Israel, which took place under Jeroboam 
II.; cf. Obad. ver. 17 ; Amos ix. 12. In time, therefore, he belonged 
to Obadiah and Joel. But the significant thing in him is his 
relation to the Assyrian capital. In the highest degree noteworthy 
(i.e. when we combine therewith what Obadiah, Joel, Amos, etc., 
said about the heathen world) is the mission of Jonah to the 
heathen city Nineveh. This mission the Lord carries through 
with the utmost energy (following the prophet in the storm, 
preserving him by means of a sea-monster), and it has an unheard- 
of result. Although the present Book of Jonah may have beer- 
written considerably later and not without didactic purpose, several 
features pointing to an exilian or post-exilian composition, such a 
mission to Nineveh was certainly contained in the tradition coming 
from this early period ; and this, as Delitzsch remarks, involves a 
miracle, when we compare with it the particularism of divine 
salvation even in the prophetic writings. We have here a weighty 
precedent for communicating the divine revelation to the heathen 
world and for its reception by the latter. In the centre of the 
world-empire the message of the true God was heard and believed ; 
the city repented, and experienced merciful forbearance. 

This history was typical in high degree of God's ways in the 
New Covenant. As the Lord (John ii. 18 f.) proposes the sign of 

1 Hitzig compares xi. 2 f. with 2 Kings xv. 16. 


His raising up the temple in three days (in allusion to Hos. vi. 2), 
so in Matt. xii. 38 ff. (xvi. 4) and Luke xi. 29 ft'., He proposes the 
sign or miracle of Jonah ; which, however, ought not to be limited 
to mean that Jesus like Jonah was to remain three days in the 
bosom of the earth, which here is merely an attendant circum- 
stance, of course a significant one. We have especially to con- 
sider the wonderful occurrence exclusively emphasized by Luke, 
that the heathen accorded faith to the prophet sent to them by 
divine grace and certainly accredited before them by the miracle. 
Thus this typical prediction supplements the prophetic one of 
Hosea. The latter promised the revival of the Church by God's 
act ; the former at least gives hints of the raising of a new Church 
out of the heathen world by God's word and act. But the next 
prophet to be spoken of announced this plan of God in reference 
to the heathen world, not merely in typical form, but with full 
prophetic consciousness. 



29. Isaiah and Micah : The Exalted Zion. 

IN the period of the highest splendour of the Assyrian power, 
which was preparing an abrupt end for the northern king- 
dom, great prophets were at work in the southern one, the greatest 
of whom once more held the aegis of the divine word over 
threatened Jerusalem. While Isaiah, by thus defending God's 
city, which in human opinion was lost, against the arrogant 
world-power, proved to his and our contemporaries the wonderful 
greatness and force of God's revealed word, the supreme value of 
the revelation given him lies in what he was permitted to see of 
the future divine kingdom which was only to enter after judg- 
ment. What he sees is supplemented by the oracle of Micah, 
his somewhat later contemporary. Both prophets speak of the 
future Messiah, Isaiah in particular depicting the rule of the 
future Son of David more clearly and vividly than all who came 
before and after him. In both, Zion is the glorious centre of the 
divine rule, the significance of which Isaiah especially puts in 
the clearest light. 

The present Book of Isaiah may, we admit, very naturally be 
regarded as a collection made up of different, even heterogeneous, 
parts. But the Messianic prophecies in the proper sense, as well 
as the great Zion-oracles, belong without doubt to the prophet, 
under whose name they stand, and with whose personality they 
are inseparably bound up. Isaiah, the son of Amos (P D ?), a 
prophet labouring in Jerusalem, according to the heading which is 
confirmed by the contents of the book, from the time of King 
Uzziah to that of Hezekiah, spent a long life in this ministry ; and 
Judah's being once more spared in the Assyrian judgment was due 



in large measure to his persistent toil. Isaiah, indeed, knew from 
the day of his call to this office (in the year of Uzziah's death, 
chap, vi.), that his preaching would not thoroughly cure the dec]) 
infatuation of his people or permanently turn aside the doom of 
exile impending over it (cf. vi. 11 f.). For this reason also his 
preaching is primarily an announcing of judgment, accompanied 
by severe, unsparing exposure of the moral corruption which no 
forms of worship could conceal (chap. i.). But like Hosea he 
sees a return from the exile. Although but a remnant, the 
Church of the Lord will at last experience a wonderful salvation. 
This salvation proceeds from David's house, and already in the 
presence of the prophet the Lord gives that house unmistak- 
able signs of His favour and protection. Such was the case 
according to the prophet's prediction under the worldly-minded 
Ahaz, who is delivered from his foes, Syria and Ephraim, 
certainly not without his feeling the clanger he incurred by his 
alliance with Assyria ; and again gloriously in Hezekiah, the 
pious king, under whom Assyria's ascendancy comes to an end 
before Jerusalem's walls. The prophet is conscious of the com- 
plete superiority and glorious future of the Davidic house in 
conflict with these world-powers ; he sees the renown to be con- 
ferred on this house and nation when its true heir appears. Bat 
certainly his call to repentance, the reception of which would at 
once secure God's favours and remove the misery of the times 
(ii. 5, i. 18 f.), finds as little intelligence and obedience as the 
analogous one of Hosea. Judgment must first refine even Jiulali 
(i. 25), exile swallow up the nation, and thus the glorious 
Messiah grow up out of the deepest humiliation of His house 
and people. Thus in Isaiah we see in especially striking fashion 
a contrast between insight into the deep corruption of his people 
on its way to dissolution, and rock-like certainty that a future, 
divinely brought about, will realize in actual life the mission 
which the Lord entrusted to the nation in an ideal form through 
His prophets. 

The glorious final state, that will see God's plan realized, is 
described in ii. 1 ff. as a theocracy, having Jerusalem (or the 
temple of Yahveh) for its centre, from that point drawing all 
nations into its sphere, and thus bringing in universal peace. 1 

Isa. ii. 2. " And it shall come to pass at the end of the days : 
1 On the question of the origin of this passage, see afterwards in Micah. 


the mountain of the house of Yahveh shall tower up at the 
head of the mountains, 1 and shall be exalted above the hills, 

3 and to it shall all the heathen walk. And many nations 
shall go and say : Come, let us go up to the mountain of 
Yahveh, to the house of the God of Jacob, and He will 
instruct us in His ways, 2 and we will walk in His paths. 
For from Zion shall law go forth and the word of Yahveh 

4 from Jerusalem. And He shall judge between the nations, 
and impart instruction to many peoples, and they beat 
their swords into ploughshares, 3 and their spears into 
vintage-knives. Nation lifts not sword against nation, nor 
do they practise war any more." 

In the phrase " at the end of the days " 4 the seer strikes 
beyond the nearer future. At present neither Israel nor Judah 
can be saved from the judgment, scarcely the temple itself. 
Directly before proclaiming again this oracle of Isaiah, Micah 
at least says (iii. 12), Zion must be ploughed into arable 
land, Jerusalem turned into a heap of stones, the temple 
become a wooded hill. 5 But the history of the people and 
temple chosen of God cannot conclude with this well-merited 
judgment. The end must be a quite different one. Zion, at 
present oppressed and despised in its abasement, shall then 
tower above every proud mountain and hill. The dispute 
whether this is meant in a physical, topographical sense, the 
nature of the ground undergoing a mighty change, in order 
that Zion, now encircled by higher hills, may tower above 
all, or in a purely religious sense, the value of the mountain for 
worship coming exclusively into view, is an idle one. As seer 
the prophet actually saw Mount Zion, the site of the temple,** 
higher than all the rest, just as in fact he saw the nations 
journeying to this centre of the world under God's rule, or 
discerned Zion overshadowed with divine cloud and flame 
(iv. 5 f.) ; and it was not his business to convert such concrete 

1 Not " as head of the mountains ; " 3 is strictly local. Only, the meaning 
still less is that it is placed on the top of the other mountains ; but it rises at their 
head, towers above their head ; the conception therefore is quite parallel with that 
of the following clause : " exalted from the heights," therefore above them. 

2 V3TIO, partitive jp. 

3 SeeVn Joel iii. 10, p. 211. 4 See p. 33, 194. 

s Cf. a literal fulfilment, 1 Mace. iv. 38. 6 Zion=Moriah, see p 186. 


intuitions into abstract thoughts. But he must have been well 
aware of the spiritual import presented in and served by 
such representations. According to our Christian conscious- 
ness this import is the essential thing ; what shape it will assume 
in the final fulfilment, is an open question. At all events the 
revelation of the God dwelling on Zion must be acknowledged 
by all nations, and the world's whole physiognomy even in 
outward respects will assume a shape in harmony with this sub- 
jection to Yahveh. 

If Joel has shown us the negative end of the heathen world, 
here as in Zech. ix. 10 we have a significant prospect of the 
positive future of that world, when it becomes aware that 
salvation consists in willing subjection to Israel's God. The 
nations will all betake themselves to the Lord and receive 
instruction ( iT V^) from Him, i.e. the revelation of His will. 
Thus their life will be governed by His word. In particular, 
their quarrels will be settled by His judicial decision. "\Yith 
the words P % 5&? '3 the prophet's own discourse begins again. 
Zion-Jerusalem will be the source whence divine revelation 
goes forth to all lands, so that from this loftiest mountain 
spiritual waters will water the whole earth. Then, too, nations 
numerous and strong (Q'? 1 ] B^V) will acquiesce without resist- 
ance in the divine direction, instead of asserting their rights 
by force. Thus war ceases of itself, universal peace begins, 
and there appears the true converse of what Joel saw among 
the heathen (iv. 9 f.). There, they turned all implements of 
tillage into weapons against God and His people ; here, they 
change all weapons of war, which they once used against each 
other, into instruments of peaceful, life-preserving toil. In 
(loci's kingdom on earth labour will not cease, but will be 
hallowed by Him and therefore fruitful. And the peace, 
everywhere promised to God's people for the last days (Zech. 
iii. 10), is here promised to the whole world (Micah iv. 4). 

This prophecy belongs to the most glorious treasures in the 
world of human thought. Eeally it contains what human thought 
held and still holds impossible, but what is certain truth to God's 
seer. What supernatural confidence was necessary, in the very 
age when God's true servants were compelled to announce ruth- 
less judgment on the temple, and it seemed as if everything ever 
said of God's kingdom in Israel was a beautiful dream lacking 


confirmation, to promise such a position in the world to this 
very temple ! What consecration of the Spirit it bespeaks, 
when at the very time that all nations were whetting their swords 
to make God's people feel their edge, the seers of God proclaimed 
to these very heathen that they will one day grow weary of this 
sanguinary game and flock to Zion to obtain light and right ! 

Here also we have a confirmation of what was said about the 
prophetic oracles necessarily supplementing each other. In 
Zech. ix. it is the Messiah who sets up the kingdom of peace in 
the world. In the present oracle He is as little mentioned as in 
Micah iv., and yet it is Isaiah and Micah especially in whom the 
glory of God's final kingdom is concentrated in His person. 1 The 
opposite representations of the end of the heathen world in Joel 
and Isaiah-Micah are one-sided views, which are only contradic- 
tory in appearance. Isa. xxiv. xxvii. exhibits their combination. 
The judgment and the conversion of the nations have been 
fulfilled and will be further fulfilled. For the latter is by no 
means complete. Zion, the city of God celebrated by countless 
peoples, from which light and salvation have gone out to all 
quarters of the world, has witnessed unexampled triumphs. 
The watchword : " To the holy mountain of Yahveh ! Let us 
there learn the revelation of the Lord ! " has been the watchword 
of all important nations and races for centuries. They have 
fetched their law thence and confess the doctrine there 
preached, a doctrine establishing peace on earth and God's 
goodwill to men. But certainly the realization of this doctrine 
remains to-day far short of what the prophet depicts. Does 
the fault lie in revelation ? Or is it not powerful enough to 
abolish national differences ? We Christians know the opposite. 
Although the worldly kingdoms that have become " Christian " 
still engage in strife, and the learning of war still exhausts most 
of the forces of civilised States, we know a divine spirit-power 
proclaimed to us from Zion which overcomes the world, and which, 
when fully developed, will dictate universal peace. The end 
must include such a peace even according to our observation. 
And it can only heighten our reverence for the prophetic word, 

1 In presence of such facts it seems to us premature for Riehm to remark 
(Messianic Prophecies, p. 129), that because Messiah is not found here, Isa. 
xxiv. -xxvii. must have been written at a time when the idea of the theocratic 
monarchy had lost much of its importance in the consciousness of the devout. 


when we find that to-day, after all our boasted advances in culture 
and humanity, mankind, because it has not more sincerely and 
completely taken to heart and reduced to practice the teaching 
from the holy mount of grace, has not yet risen to the height of 
the goal that stood before the eyes of God's holy seers more than 
twenty-five centuries ago. Contemplating words of living truth, 
to which such age-long compass belongs, we shall not stumble at 
the local form demanded by the Old Testament mode of view. 
If Zion was the chosen seat of God's temple, the submission of 
the nations to God could not be more strikingly set forth than 
in the beautiful picture of the prophet, who sees all nations pil- 
griming thither. That Zion is wherever God's people are found, 
could only be taught in the New Testament, with its purely 
spiritual principle of fellowship with God. For the rest, the 
New Testament also teaches that God's kingdom must take visible 
shape ; only when this takes place will the oracle of our seer 
altogether give place to its fulfilment. 

If the oracle just considered shows us the world as God's 
kingdom of the future, Isa. iv. 2-6 describes the God-filled 
Church that will form the centre of that kingdom. It also 
forms a transition to the prophecies of Isaiah treating of the 
personal centre of the Church of those days, the Messiah of 
David's house. This second oracle, again, is a glance at the 
shining height in which the way of God terminates, although 
leading through judgment. It forms the brief conclusion of a 
long, fearful discourse of judgment (ii. 6-iv. 1). Judgment goes 
forth on Judah and Jerusalem so thoroughly, that everything on 
which in their fleshly mind they put confidence their gods, 
their princes, their priests and prophets, their power and wealth, 
everything which exalts and is precious in their eyes is smitten 
down and carried oft', the Lord alone remaining exalted (ii. 11, 17). 
On that day, when against the false, wanton Zion judgment shall 
have gone forth, the holy Zion of God shall be revealed, 
iv. 2. " On that day shall the plant of Yahveh be for ornament 
and honour, and the fruit of the land for pride and pomp to 

3 the escaped of Israel. 1 And it shall be, whoever remains in 
Zion and is left in Jerusalem shall be called holy, every 

4 one written among the living in Jerusalem, when the 
Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of 

1 See p. 198. 


Zion, and cleansed the blood-stains of Jerusalem from its 
midst, by the spirit of judgment and the spirit of cleansing. 

5 And Yahveh creates on every spot of Mount Zion and on 
her assemblies a cloud by day, and smoke and blazing fire- 

6 radiance by night ; for over all glory shall be a vault. And 
there shall be a habitation for a shadow from the heat by 
day, and for a refuge and covert from tempest and rain." 

Ver. 4 shows the close antithetical connection in which this 
promise stands with the preceding threatening. The glorifying 
of Zion must be preceded by a cleansing, which purges away 
what it now regards as its ornament and pride. Also in the 
expressions used in ver. 2 (V?X> "N23, iiNji' rpKSn) the antithesis to 
that which Zion now glories in is unmistakable. Not that 
with which they now in carnal vanity adorn themselves, but 
that which the Lord makes to sprout will suffice to be an 
honour and ornament to the Church brought safely through the 
judgment. What is the meaning of this '" HOS ? In any case 
not the aftergrowth of the nation, 1 or its then existing remnant. 2 
This comes afterwards in the dative. Eather one might under- 
stand the blessing of nature, which the Lord makes to sprout and 
the earth bears as fruit. 3 Hofmann says (Schriftbeweis, ii. 2, 
p. 542 f.) : " What Jehovah makes to grow and the land brings 
forth the prophet opposes to the thousand products of human art, 
with which the vanity previously rebuked, especially in the 
women, adorns itself." But Hofmann and Schultz (A. T. Theologic, 
p. 730 f.) both acknowledge that in this context we cannot be 
satisfied with the mere blessing of nature, such as is contained 
in the products of the soil. Rosenmiiller rightly remarks : huic 
interpretationi obstat totius sermonis magnificentia (cf. Delitzsch, 
ad loc.}. Is then the " Sprout of Yahveh " the Messiah simply, 
and is He also described as the fruit of the earth, so that, as in 
Micah iv. 1, He would be contemplated in His divine and earthly 
origin ? 4 As matter of fact, the Messiah is afterwards called a 
Sprout, or directly " the Sprout," 5 and there can be no question 
that these passages lean on Isaiah's. But this does not imply 

1 Grotius, Gesenius, Knobel. * Eichhorn. 

* So most moderns, even Hitzig, Diestel. Cf. Joel iii. 18 ; Hos. iii. 5 ; Zech. 
ix. 17 ; Isa. Ixi. 11. 

* So Hengstenberg, Delitzsch, et al. 

* Jer. xxiii. 5, xxxiii. 15 ; Zech. iii. 8, vi. 12. 


that the word here has the same personal force as later on, when 
it had become a proper name of the Messiah. Considering the 
general character of the present passage, this is improbable. 1 
What Yahveh causes to sprout and the earth brings forth will 
be a glory to the preserved nation. Altogether extraordinary 
displays of grace are meant, as ver. 5 also speaks of miraculous 
phenomena ; but the Son of David is not exclusively referred to, 
since nov had not yet become a fixed designation for Him. The 
expression, intentionally left in such indefinite mystery, corre- 
sponds to the iaia of Hos. iii. 5. The land will sparkle gloriously 
with the divine gifts which the Lord of His grace and power 
there causes to spring up and the earth produces. Since, accord- 
ing to the following chapters, the Messiah is the mediator of 
these benefits, nay, He Himself grows up the greatest, most 
mysterious among them, it is easily intelligible how the later 
prophets applied this no* to the living, personal centre of these 
blessings in the last days, coining this word, so finely ex- 
pressive of God's wondrous dealings, into a symbolic name 
for the expected King, whose existence would be a pure gift 
of divine omnipotence, a miracle of grace. In the present 
passage the chief emphasis lies on the thought, that the future 
glory will be altogether a work of God, on which account 
also Yahveh Himself is called the glory of the Church, xxviii. 5. 
The Church itself, issuing in safety from the judgment, is 
described (ver. 3) as holy in all her members. After the sifting, 
to use a Christian phrase, the visible coincides with the invisible 
Church. Whoever is entered as living in the burgess-roll of 
Jerusalem (cf. Ezek. xiii. 9), 2 bears also the mark of belonging to 
the Church of God, and this mark is holiness. But the question 

1 Nagelsbach also wrongly : " Growth of Jehovah and growth of the land are 
opposed to each other ; the former denotes conscious personal life (as a fruit of 
(rod), the latter impersonal bodily life as a product of the earth." Untenably, too, 
Schultz respecting rtDV: " It is meant to describe the spiritual fruit of the land, 
the life of the last days springing from God, that is to adorn the Israelites." This 
limitation of the promised glory to the spiritual is just as unwarranted as its 
exclusive reference to the material. 

* The idea of a burgess-roll, like that of Zion, is capable of being spiritualized. 
In Ex. xxxii. 32 we find the notion of a covenant-book which the Lord keeps ; so 
again in Dan. xii. 1. But in Isaiah, the emphasis lies on the fact that the city- 
book and the Lord's book coincide ; every one entered on the list of inhabitants is 
also an actual member of God's holy Church. In Ps. Ixxxvii. this burgess-roll is 
enlarged in an extraordinary manner. 


is, on what element of this attribute the emphasis here rests. In 
our view it is not moral purity, which certainly according to 
ver. 4 is presupposed, nor official qualification as fitness and 
authority to serve God, though, in fact, this side is of course 
included, and the entire citizenship of Jerusalem in the last age 
forms a lepdrevfia aytov (" Israel's national calling (Ex. xix. 6) 
is thus personally and universally realized," Delitzsch). But 
the statement of this verse is meant rather to ascribe inviolable- 
ness to this priestly community, morally purified and consecrated 
to Yahveh's service. Every one will be .regarded as consecrated 
to the Lord, which implies that the Lord Himself acknowledges 
him as His elect possession. 1 Thus the citizen of Jerusalem, 
secured against all injustice, thanks to his uncontested priestly 
dignity, is miraculously guarded by God like the temple itself; 
for, according to ver. 5 f., by a creative act the Lord will put 
the Church that serves Him in a position to do so without 
interruption day and night, summer and winter. As the pilgrim- 
Church in the desert (Num. xiv. 14) was visibly accompanied 
by God's presence, shaded by day and illumined by night, so 
the Church of Zion, in which the Lord has taken up His 
dwelling, will be guarded in such a way, that no part of the 
temple will be unprotected, the oppositions of day and night, 
summer-heat and winter-rain, will cause no disturbance in the 
unbroken worship of the Lord. The fire - radiance is the 
outbeaming of the glory of the Lord, the smoke - cloud its 
veiling. It forms a nan, a baldachin, over all His glory that 
dwells in Zion. Already in Ex. xiv. 19 f. the pillars of cloud 
and fire formed a protecting wall against the foe ; now it shields 
the city of God against all violence of the elements. Men no 
longer do it hurt. But the glory of the Lord is represented as 
immanent in the Church, more than was the case in the desert 
marchings; cf. p. 188. 

Whilst, then, ii. 1 ff. presented to us the whole world as an 
extended forecourt of the heathen, chap. iv. gives us a glance 
into Yahveh's sanctuary in Zion itself, where every member of 
the population shares in the dignity and invio^bleness of the 
holy place, and God's majesty guards itself and its dwelling against 
all changes of time. Here for the first time the perfected Church 
is more precisely described as a glorified Jerusalem, an idea recur- 

1 Cf. 7 "1ES in Hos. ii. 1. The name expresses the state of things. 


ring again and again up to the Eevelation of John. What the 
Davidic Jerusalem represented typically in empirical imperfection, 
will be realized, according to Isaiah, hereafter in its full ideal 
import. In a spiritual sense this prophecy is already fulfilled, a 
wondrous " Sprout of the Lord " having grown up, and by His 
mediation sifted the Church and clothed every member of it 
with priestly dignity, while this community has been made 
safe against all the storms of the world. But the Johannine 
Apocalypse again pushes the final fulfilment of our vision into 
the future, because the outer and inner consummation of this 
Jerusalem is not accomplished even in the New Covenant, but 
is only prepared for. The sifting of the Church still continues ; 
and only when its outward condition corresponds to the divine 
ideal will it be raised above all assault, and its glory revealed 
to the world. 

30. Isaiah's Oracles of Immanud. 

The " Sprout of the Lord " of the previous oracle, left 
indefinite and general, is unfolded in chap, vii. xi. in personal 
distinctiveness. A Sprout will the Lord cause to grow 
up from David's house, which as divine Head of the Church 
will bring it to completion. Chap. vii. 1 ff. tells us the his- 
torical occasion on which the prophet first alluded to the 
future Immanuel. In the critical moment of Judsean history, 
when the confederate kings of Syria and Ephraim, Rezin and 
Pekah (about 741 B.C.), advanced against Judah to put an end to 
the rule of the Davidic house, 1 and all hearts in Jerusalem were 
shaking as the trees of the wood before the wind, the prophet 
Isaiah 2 appeared before king Ahaz with the categorical prediction 
that nothing would come of this project, and summoning to calm, 
immovable confidence in the Lord : " Unless ye believe, ye shall 
not remain ! " In support of a faith so opposed to probabilities he 
offered Ahaz a sign, which he might freely choose from Hades 
below or heaven above. By this is meant a sign occurring 
suddenly, of the kind referred to in chap, xxxvii. 7, a phenomenon 
by which the invisible God, to whom not only the earth, but also 
the world above and beneath is subject, would have verified His 

1 Of. 2 Kings xv. 37, xvi. 5. 
1 Cf. Isa. xxx. 15. 


power and purpose. Of course the citation of a spirit of the 
dead from Sheol * would have been as illegal as it was unprophetic 
(viii. 19). The matter in question here is not the consulting of 
such a spirit, hut a miraculous sign from the Lord, which points 
rather to earthquakes and the like, and in the heavenly sphere 
to astral phenomena, lightning, etc. 

But king Ahaz, really an unbeliever, expected little from 
Yahveh's help. On the contrary, he put his confidence in the 
support of Assyria, which he was secretly seeking (2 Kings 
xvi. 7 ff.), and cleverly evaded the fanatic (whom he took the 
prophet to be, like our modern theologians) by the courteous 
disclaimer, which seemed superficially more religious than the 
prophet's daring faith : " I will not request it, nor tempt Yahveh." 
Then the prophet answers sharply : The God whose patience they, 
the members of the royal house, were trying so severely, will 
give them a sign unasked : 
vii. 14. "Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: 

Behold, the virgin conceives and bears a son, and she 
1 5 calls 2 his name IMMANUEL (God with us) ; buttermilk and 

honey will he eat at the time when he knows to despise 

the evil and choose the good." 

As this is to be a sign, it must contain a public act on God's 
part. It cannot, indeed, be as directly visible as in xxxviii. 7, 
and according to the purpose in view (vii. 11), cannot be the 
same. According to ver. 16, it extends over several years, 3 and 
yet, according to the same verse, over only a few years, reckoning 
from the present. The nnn nnppn nan may, indeed, apply to 
something future, whereas in the passage, Gen. xvi. 1 1 (analogous 
in point of syntax), Hagar has already conceived, but something 
immediately impending is to be thought of. The analogy of 
that passage, however, suggests that the chief emphasis lies on 
the child's name. The name Immanuel shall be given to the 
child, because God's assistance is visibly experienced at the time 

1 ripNB'. ver. 11, according to the parallelism, is a second pausal form for 
(Ewald, Delitzsch), not imper. from ^x$ (Targuni, Hupfeld, Nagelsbach). 

- T 

2 ntflpl. 3rd pers. fern., from DtOp ; cf. Gesen. Gram. 74, note 1. 

3 The stage when moral consciousness begins separates innocent childhood from 
boyhood, when moral responsibility already exists. The limit of time in viii. 4 
does not go so far. Isaiah's sign, xxxvii. 30, stretches analogously over several 


of his birth. Yer. 16 assigns the reason of the name, for 
before the boy shall understand to avoid the bad and choose the 
good, " the land shall be forsaken, whose two kings thou abhorrest." 
Ver. 17, on the other hand, gives the reason for the 15th verse. 
In the boy's conscious age there will be nothing but butter- 
milk and honey to eat in the land. 1 " Yahveh will bring on thee, 
and thy people, and thy father's house, such days as have not 
been since the day when Epbraim fell away from Judah will 
bring the king of Assyria," etc. According to the statements 
of these and the following verses, the sign given to this genera- 
tion is of a political kind. In the period within which from the 
present time a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, a complete 
revolution shall take place in the circumstances of the world. 
His name will be called Immanuel, as a sign of glorious help 
experienced, and of perfect confidence. But when he arrives 
at years of reason, Judah itself is devastated by a worse foe 
the Assyrians, 2 from whom good is at present expected. Thus, 
in this at first somewhat enigmatical dress, which, however, as a 
real sign must have been imprinted on the memory, a prediction 
I is given, definite in point of time, of the course of political 
[ events, the prophet himself supplying the interpretation in clear 
words. It is a sign which that generation for the most part 
soon saw ; 3 and here, as in the case of Isaiah's oracle, which 
afterwards foretold the fall of the Assyrians before the walls of 
Jerusalem, it is impossible to escape with a mere reference to 
the prophet's political sagacity, or his religious insight, or his bold 
faith. It would have been abominable arrogance or fanatical 
superstition thus to sketch the ways of God beforehand, and 
stake the faith of others on the occurrence of the events pro- 

1 That is, in consequence of the devastation, agriculture and vine-culture will be 
unknown ; only cattle-keeping will be left, ver. 20 ff. 

2 The -ft^K ?pD OS forestalls the following verse in a suspicious manner, and 

may be a gloss from viii. 7. Substantially the point is indifferent, as Isaiah does 
not leave it in doubt what foe he expects. 

* After a few years followed the campaign of Tiglath-Pileser against Damascus, 
ending with the capture of the city, and the death of Rezin the king (732 ?), 
2 Kings xvi. 9 ; cf. Schrader, Keillnschrlfttn und Altes Testament, p. 152 f. Pekah 
also was at that time conquered by Tiglath-Pileser, and many people were 
deported, 2 Kings xv. 29; Samaria itself fell somewhat later (722 B.C.). The 
prediction of the ceasing of Ephraim in sixty-five years (Isa. vii. 8), attacked on 
critical grounds, refers not to the destruction of the capital, but to the settling of 
foreign colonists in the land, 2 Kings xvii. 24 ff. ; Ezra iv. 2. 


phesied, unless the prophet had been under the immediate 
influence of a higher power giving him certain knowledge, not 
only of ethico-religious truths, but also of the outward course 
of history. That naturalistic criticism has a hard position to 
maintain in face of this chapter, which is unassailable on 
literary grounds, is self-evident in relation to vii. 7, where it has 
to take the side of the king and his worldly policy. 

But although the oracle of Immanuel, according to the further 
explanation, is meant primarily to inform the hearers of Judah's 
fate in the impending months and years, we have still to ask, 
whether it is exhausted in this application, whether the growth 
of a child is chosen as a measure of time only by chance, and 
whether a particular child and his mother are used for this 
purpose. In the latter respect it is said definitely AD&9R, the 
virgin. The word denotes a marriageable maiden, a virgin ripe 
for marriage (from D?J?, to be strong sexually] ; on the other 
hand, the emphasis in this passage does not lie on the negative 
element of virginity. If the sign to the hearers consisted in a 
virgin conceiving without aid of man, 1 nTiro must have been 
used. But still less could ne6y be used of the prophet's wife, 
as asserted by many, 2 who point to the fact that Isaiah's children 
bore significant names, meant as signs to remind him and the 
people of the chief import of his preaching. 3 The prophetess 
(nx'oan, mentioned viii. 3), who had been a mother several years, 
since her son Shear-Jashub accompanied his father to the king, 
can never be described again as nc&yn ; and to suppose her to be 
dead, in order to be able to foist a young maiden on the prophet 
as his wife, is a foolish makeshift. Moreover, it would have 
been unbecoming for the prophet to proclaim in such grand 
terms a sign to David's royal house taken from the circle of his 
own family. 4 

1 So still Bredenkamp, Vatidmum quod de Immanude edidit Jesajas, 1880. 

2 Gesenius, Hitzig, Knobel, et al.; even Tholuck, A. T. im N. T., p. 43, Proph. 
p. 170 ; and J. P. Lange, Genesis, p. 89. 

3 Isa. vii. 3, viii. 3, 18. 

4 How great the perplexity attending the rationalistic explanation is shown by 
Knobel's difficulty, that Isaiah certainly could not know that his pregnant wife 
would bear a eon ; which he solves by supposing that the name Immanuel would 
also suit a girl, the prophet in his oral announcement perhaps speaking simply of a 
child, and post eventum interpolating the more definite son ! This is verily : " I am 
no prophet, nor a prophet's son ! " 


It would be much more likely to take no^yn quite indefinitely 
in the sense : l " When now the virgin (i.e. any virgin) conceives, 
she will have reason after the birth has taken place (i.e. in nine 
months) to call her son Immanuel," according to the ordinary 
custom of naming children after domestic or public circum- 
stances happening at the time of their birth. In this case the 
child along with its mother is nothing but a clock-finger in 
Judah's history. But one must concede that on this explana- 
tion the very opening of the oracle does not seem natural. That 
opening seems to point to a birth full of promise, despite all 
adverse circumstances. And the following chapters are decisive 
in this sense. When in ix. 5 the prophet exults: A child is 
born to us, a son is given us, meaning thereby the Messiah of 
David's house, we cannot avoid the impression, that it is he 
of whose conception and approaching birth the present passage 
speaks so circumstantially. And were any doubt left, it would 
be removed by viii. 8, where it is said: "Thy land, Im- 
manuel ; " consequently the son of the no^y is addressed as 
the prince of the land; cf. viii. 10. And whom would this name 
suit better than the Messiah, in whom God's presence is given 
most directly to the Church ? 

But although the Messianic dignity of the boy utterly 
excludes the notion that he may have been Isaiah's son, we 
cannot perhaps assume that the prophet alluded to a definite 
woman, belonging to David's Messianic house, as the mother of 
the Messiah. This is as improbable as that in ix. 5 he alluded 
to a particular new-born child. It would be preferable to refer 
to the son of Ahaz, the devout Hezekiah, whose mother Abi, 
daughter of Zechariah, is mentioned in 2 Kings xviii. 2. But 
this old Jewish interpretation 2 does not suit chronologically, as 
Hezekiah must have been already nine years old at the time 
when Isaiah spoke to Ahaz. Altogether unhappy is Nagelsbach's 
suggestion, according to which an unmarried princess is supposed 
to be denounced as pregnant by the prophetic saying. Bather- 
is '~!D?yn (just as general as rnh in Micah v. 2), not indeed the 
house of David (Hofmann), but the elect Church, from whose 
womb the Messiah proceeds. The prophet discerns in its 

1 So Stahelin, recently also Reuss (Gesch. d. heil. Schr. A. T., 1881, p. 308). 
* The idea of the Messiah was, in several ways, brought into connection with 
the person of Hezekiah. F. Weber, Altsynagogale Theologie, p. 341. 


present affliction the pains of a pregnancy, which will not be 
unfruitful, like those of the house of Israel, Hos. xiii. 13, but 
from which the Messiah will proceed. In the abasement and 
devastation now impending, He will grow up. This is parallel 
to the statement of Micah, that He is to go forth from Beth- 
lehem. This prospect of the glorious fruit that will grow up, 
in mean circumstances, in the time of impending calamity, 
forms the bright obverse of the oracle, whose hard, dark upper 
side would be more intelligible to its hearers. There is some- 
thing mysterious in the appellation of the mother of the 
Messiah. Whether it is the house^ of David. o^Zion, or the 
community of the devout, or Judah, in any case she is a virgin ; 
she is not here called the Lord's wife, as in Hosea, but a virgin 
in the sense above mentioned, 1 as one who was destined to be 
a mother, but had not yet fulfilled this destiny. The Church 
of the Lord is destined to conceive something quite new, divine ; 
she will conceive it amid the tribulation now beginning. The 
rendering irapdevos (LXX.), according to the idiom stated above, 
is more in the right than certain tasteless modern ones ; 2 and 
Matt. i. 2 2 f., who refers it to the virgin birth of the Lord, does 
not do this without intrinsic right. For the oracle implies that 
the Messiah will come into the world through a new miraculous 
influence of the Lord on the Church, and just the same is shown 
in the history of the fulfilment in relation to His mother. 

We find, then, in the present oracle two chief thoughts inter- 
twined : 1. Before a child now conceived is born, the foes are 
judged, Jerusalem delivered ; before the child becomes a youth, 
Judah also is laid waste. Herein, in this rapid, unexpected 
sequence of political events, lies the sign for the present genera- 
tion, i.e. a public testimony to Yahveh's conscious, almighty rule 
in the world's history. 2. In these pains the birth of a child, 
of Immanuel, is made known. In the extraordinarily unhappy 
state in which the land is placed, the Messiah grows up. 

But the question, How are these two thoughts related to each 
other ? is difficult. Did the prophet expect the Messiah's birth 
and the setting up of His kingdom in the time immediately 
impending ? We would not contend against such a view on 

1 Hofmann rightly observes : "She only could rationally be called marriageable 
(mannbar) who was capable of knowing, but had not known a man." 

2 Cf. even Segond: Void, lajeunefemme deviendra enceinte! 


dogmatic grounds, if it were exegetically established. But, first 
of all, Isaiah everywhere, 1 like his contemporary Micah, pre- 
supposes a judgment and sentence of exile on Judah-Jerusalem, 
and a near approach of the glorious Messianic age would be in 
contradiction to this. Again, one cannot mistake that in ix. 5 
he speaks of a child that does not belong to contemporary 
history, but is only present to his seer-vision. Here also we must 
distinguish between the prophet's picture and his reflective thought. 
In the former, Immanuel is actually born in the Syrian-Ephraim 
tribulation, and grows up in the Assyrian trouble. But this does 
not imply that the event also took this shape temporally in the 
consciousness of the reflecting Isaiah, for other visions cut him 
off from the hope of witnessing such an epoch. Intrinsically 
regarded, however, the form of the prophecy is not without reason. 
The sufferings which then befell Judah were, in fact, the beginning 
of the end, of the judgment by which the old kingdom would be 
dissolved and give place to a new one ; and in the degradation, 
in which people and monarchy were found after the Assyrian 
period, the new ruler grew up. But, at the same time, the 
superiority of Judah, such as was gloriously displayed in the days 
of Ahaz and Hezekiah, had its deepest reason in the fact that it 
was God's people, the mother of the Messiah. Hence God's 
wondrous way could not be more graphically described to that 
generation than was done in this oracle, where the Messiah, 
bringing comfort after its humiliation, was held up before its eyes 
as a token of what lay before it. 

As in Isa. vii. so in Isa. ix., the promise rises as a light out 
of the night of doom ; only that here the light, at least for a 
moment, quite pushes back the dark shadows. In the discourse 
principally in question (chap. viii. 5 ff.) the entire import is still 
.condemnatory, until in ix. 2 a morning-ray suddenly shoots up. 
Uncomprehended and unheard, the seer stands there with his 
children, who are the living tokens of the message of doom. The 
nation seeks counsel in forbidden quarters instead of from the 
living God, and refuses to assent to the motto : " To the law and 
testimony !" i.e. will not bow before the divine Torah and accept 
the testimony of judgment and promise. Hence it is encircled 
by comfortless night, which grows darker and darker. The most 
natural explanation of the difficult ver. 20 seems to us to be this: 

1 Isa. iii. Iff., v. 1 ff., vi. 11 ff., vii. 20 ff., viii. 1, etc., xxxir. 6, 


If they do not say, To the law and testimony, they are such as 
have no morning-dawn, a desperate state of God-forsakenness 
expounded in ver. 21 f. Chap. ix. 1 joins on to this, assigning 
the reasons. It indicates why the opposite happy condition is 
to be expected in adherence to the law and the testimony. This 
testimony contains the wonderful promise : 

ix. 1. " For the district, where tribulation is, does not remain 
dark ; at the first time He humbled the land of Zebulon and the 
land of Xaphtali. And in the last time He brings to honour 
the way by the sea, the land beyond Jordan, the region of the 

The portion of country in the east and north (2 Kings xv. 29), 
most exposed to foes, has according to God's decree a glorious 
future. The tribe of Zebulon and Naphtali is named, whose 
northern portion bore the name " district of the heathen," because 
the latter here always outnumbered the Israelitish population. 
To this tribe also belonged " the way by the sea," i.e. the west 
side of the sea of Tiberias (Eashi), finally, the strongly paganized 
Gilead. These districts had always been regarded by the sacred 
history with stepmotherly feelings, and now under Tiglath-Pileser 
were about to become altogether the prey of the heathen. But 
just here the prophet in a notable manner sees the light shine 
earliest and brightest. In his wondrous righteousness God has it 
in mind to bring just this despised portion of His inheritance to 
special honour. For a prophet of Jerusalem to speak thus is 
wonderful. Here also the fulfilment requires us with the evan- 
gelist (Matt. iv. 1 3 ff.) to acknowledge the working of God, who 
has fulfilled this saying literally, making the true light first to 
shine and the world's morning-dawn to break in Galilee, so that 
this despised country became partaker in the highest honour. On 
the ground of the present passage, without doubt, Galilee is 
regarded by the Jews as the place where the Messiah will 
emerge. 1 

The discourse shows us further the blessed metamorphosis 
that comes over the unhappy people, as well as Him who brings 
it about : 

ix. 2. " The people that walk about in darkness see a great 
light. They who dwell in the land of the shadow of death, 
3 upon them light beams. Thou multipliest the nation which 
1 Eisenmenger, Entdecktes Judenthum (1711), ii. 747. 


Thou modest not great (note A). The joy with which they 
rejoice before Thee is like the joy in harvest, like as men 

4 exult when they share spoil. For the yoke of its burden l 
and the beam of its neck, the rod of its driver Thou hast 

5 broken to pieces as on the day of Midian. For every boot of 
the booted in the tumult 2 (of battle) and garment rolled in blood 

G this shall be for burning, for fuel of fire. For a child was 
born to us, a son was given us. And the rule came on His 
shoulder. And His name is called : Wonder of Counsellor, 
7 Strong God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace, for the in- 
crease 3 of the government, and for peace without end, 4 on 
David's throne and on his kingdom, to establish and support 
it by law and righteousness, henceforth for ever and ever. 
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform these things." 
In bold antithesis to the present time the prophet describes 
how the unhappy people, sunk in the gloom of God-forsakenness 
(and he understands by the people now no longer particular 
tribes, but the whole of degenerate Israel), will be made partakers 
in divinely - given freedom and joy. The nation, at present 
diminished by foreign conquerors, will be abundantly multiplied 
by God's blessing. To set forth its happiness the prophet 
chooses the joy of harvest, the purest and most blessed, in which 
the feelings of men are enhanced by the sense of God's goodness, 
which does not leave hard toil unrewarded (Ps. cxxvi. 6). Nay, 
it is a jubilee as after victory won, when men share the booty 

1 From ?3b, burden, in formed ^73D as a secondary form of i">2D with Dasjeth 
diriment i^ao. or on account of the fainter sound P3D- 

2 |NDt according to the Syriac and Chaldee, boot, soldier's boot, not equipment 
(Knobel). ETTO refer* not directly to the tumult caused by the boots, but to the 
din of battle, where men go booted. 

3 nsnDi a verbal noun (according to the form niPJJD), in the meaning, "to multi- 
ply" (i"Q~l)- The Mem clautum in this word springs from an incorrect but rather 
old reading : (n3"l) H3T D^ where Q^> was taken for QH7, as Elias Levita states. 
According to the Jewish Midrash, the Mem is said to have been closed when 
Hezekiah did not answer to the Messianic hopes cherished respecting him ! 

4 naiO^J and Di^e6 do not depend on Y&T& ("^ ^ e greatness of the rule and 
prosperity there is no end," Knobel), but ou the facts implied in the preced- 
ing verse. The ruler born suffices, in accordance with the attributes lying in his 
name, for increasing the government, and for peace without end. He is also the 
subject of the declarations : "On David's throne, and on his kingdom, to establish 
it," etc. 


after hard conflict (Judg. v. 11). For the Lord has brought about 
a complete deliverance from the hand of the heathen world-power, 
as on the day of Midian, when the harsh tyrants who had 
degraded the whole people into bond-slaves were vanquished by 
Gideon, and their yoke was shattered at a blow (Judg. vii.). A 
simple victory over foes, however, is not to be thought of. 1 The 
exultant joy of the saved and freed people can only be compared 
to the joy of harvest and victory. "When the world-power, built 
on blood and iron, has fallen, every implement of war is laid 
aside as something impure which is to vanish from the 
face of the earth, and is committed to the fire like con- 
demned spoil (Dent. xiii. 16), with every soldier's boot and 
bloody mantle an allusion to the faultless military equipment 
of the Assyrians, whose rigid bearing imposed not a little on the 

It is a grand thing for the seer just now, amid the turmoil of 
preparation and the clash of weapons, now when the invincible 
world-power is emerging with its armies, to promise that all this 
will be swept away for ever. "What gives him such confidence ? 
According to ver. 6. the birth of a child ! The same without 
doubt from which (chap, vii.), although it was not yet born, a ray 
of hope shot through the whole oracle of judgment. Now the 
seer beholds it born, hence his triumphant joy. For GooVs 
gracious presence, of which this child is the pledge, is migjitier 
than the whole world. The next moment the prophet sees the /* 
child clothed with the government ; and already from his work 
and rule it is plain who he is. But no name will suffice to 
express this. The name Inmiaimel, given even before birth as a 
pledge to the mother, expands here into a plurality which, with- 
out exhausting itself in its terms, suggests more than it expresses. 
Four pairs of words* describe this ruler as towering divinely 

1 See x. 26 f. The divine lash, which the Assyrians felt, was different from that 
which fell on Midian. 

3 Quite unnatural are all the explanations which, referring some of the predicates 
to God, apply only the remnant to the Messiah. Thus, he who is wonderful cw 
Counsellor, the strony God, the eternal Father calls hi* name Prince of Peace ;" or 
so that even iy ^2X would still be joined with DvC'~"lb' as a name of the Messiah. 
So the majority of the Rabbins, following the Targum of Jonathan. Moreover, }<?3 
must not be separated from j'yv, so that five names would arise : Wonderful, 
Counsellor, etc. (Delitzsch), since the analogy in form of the following appellations 
is against this, and J'yV after 5^2 is too weak to stand alone. 



above all others, and exuberant in blessing to his people. The 
first pair calls him : Miracle of Counsellor} The word N^B, 
miracle, denotes what goes beyond human power of compre- 
hension, divine acts and leadings, which confound human 
wisdom, Isa. xxix. 14. God is the nxy Nvso, one who deals in 
wonderful counsel. The miraculous is a mark of divine being 
and action; cf. Judg. xiii. 18. When in the first name a 
miraculous, divine character is ascribed to the ruler in his capa- 
city of counsellor, planning for his people's good, this is saying 
more than that his wisdom far exceeds that usual among rulers ; 
it is affirmed that his wisdom is related to the human as divine. 
Just so the second predicate attributes to him energy^ in action. 
He is called ii23 ?K, strong God, not merely divine hero ; a god of 
a hero ; 2 for ">i2| is an adjective, and the phrase cannot be under- 
stood differently than in x. 21, where it is used of the Lord Him- 
self. In this second name also, doubtless, a definite expression 
of his dignity, one side of his working, is taken into view, namely, 
his divine energy in action, as.jn_the first^the superhuman 
grandeur of his counsel ; but his person itself is thereby raised 
to divine greatness. He is called strong God in a way that 
would be inapplicable to a man, unless the one God, who rightly 
bears the name nui !>N, were perfectly set forth in this his 
Anointed One. In such passages the Old Testament revelation 
falls into a self-contradiction, from which only a miracle has been 
able to deliver jus, the Incarnation of the Son oj^God. Else- 
where it draws the sharpest limit between the holy God and the 
sinful child of man, and its superiority to heathen religions de- 
pends in great part on this limit. Prophecy gradually lets this 
limit drop in proof that the aim of God's action is to transcend 
it, and to unite himself most closely with humanity. In such 
oracles we Christians find no deification of the human, such as is 
the order of the day on heathen soil. Otherwise prophecy w r ould 

1 sbfi (to be so pointed, according to the text of Baer and Delitzsch, p. 68) 
is status const, (not ace. of obj.), after the analogy of mx SOS. G en - xvL 12 

(Ewald) ; fJ?V frequently stands substantially (Job iii. 14, etc.) for the minister as 
counsellor of the king, with whom as such he takes part in the government. 

* Still less : Strong Hero (Gesenius, de Wette), as no adjective ~>#, strorg, occurs, 
and such an adjective must have stood after the noun ; the current idiom "1133 7X 

has another meaning. This idiom also forbids Luther's separation : strength, hero ; 
similarly Aquila, Symm., Theodotion. 


be a retrogression from the teaching of the law into naturalism 
and heathen idealism. But in such oracles we find a clear proof, 
that even in the time of the Old Covenant the Spirit of God was 
consciously striving after the goal that we see reached in the 

Of the last two names : Eternal Father and Prince of Peace, 
the first one creates difficulty. The word "W occurs as noun in 
two very different significations, according to the choice of which 
the interpretation here differs very widely. Hitzig, Knobel, 
Diestel translate " Booty-Father," which is perhaps capable of 
defence linguistically 1 and in its import. In ver. 2 sharing of 
booty was spoken of (certainly only by way of comparison). 
Was not the Messiah meant to be described in this oracle as the 
deliverer of His people, who after wise counsel smites down the 
foe with heroic action as Gideon did the Midianites, so that after 
his victory rich booty would be enjoyed and a government of 
peace follow ? 2 With respect to the first attributes, with which 
the Messiah is adorned, we have seen that they far surpass the 
measure even of the consecrated heroism of a Gideon or David, 
and amid names of such divine dignity " Booty-Father " would 
look too freebooter-like. Nor would full justice be done to this 
predicate were it limited to a single victory, and did it not, like 
the other names, denote an attribute permanently active. But 
" Booty-Father " cannot be a permanent attribute of the Messiah 
because of the following " Prince of Peace ; " for the latter plainly 
affirms, that He is able without drawing sword to maintain His 
reputation at home and abroad, a true Solomon, not bloodstained 
like David, and yet a hero greater than he (cf. Zech. ix. 9 f. ; 
Micah v. 3). We believe, therefore, we ought to hold fast by the 
common interpretation of ny, according to which here as in Gen. 
xlix. 26, Hab. iii. 5, Isa. Ivii. 15, it denotes uninterrupted dura 
tion. 3 Only by the translation " Father of eternity " one muse 
not per se attribute to this definition of time a substantiality nou 
belonging to the Hebrew iy, and altogether foreign to the ancien'u 
Hebrew mode of conception, The genitive noun expresses pure 
quality. Even the paraphrase " Possessor of eternity," suggested 

1 The word is so used Gen. xlix. 27 ; Isa. zxxiii. 23 ; Zeph. iii. 8. 

* Cf. Gen. xlix. 8-1'.]. 

* See more respecting 1JJ in this sense in my dissertation on Die hdtriiischtn 
Synonyma der Zelt und Ewlgkeit, 1871, p. 86 ff. 


by the Shemitic employment of names of affinity, would be 
consonant to Arabic, 1 but not to old Hebrew thought. It is true 
that even in Hebrew we find this use of father, brother, etc., where 
an attribute is meant to be described as inseparably joined with 
the person in question, and it would be perverse in proper 
names, like TWMf, ByiUK, etc., to lay specific stress on the rela- 
tion of producer. 2 But TV is too dependent an idea to allow 
ax to be taken by such an analogy as a mere word of rela- 
tion (possessor of something). We therefore follow Delitzsch 
in laying the chief substantive emphasis on "as (after xxii. 21) : 
" He is a father to his people for ever," one who will never leave 
them without fatherly counsel and helpful act. And as every 
individual has in Him a father, especially the poor, according to 
the description of Ps. Ixxii., so the nation and the whole world 
(cf. ii. 3 f. ; Zech. ix. 9 f. ; Micah v. 3 f.) have in him a Prince of 

In virtue of these attributes made known in his name He 
suffices for enlarging the government as a true augmenter of the 
kingdom, and at the same time for peace without end. The 6th 
verse also proves that the enlargement of dominion is not con- 
ceived as taking place through sanguinary wars such as other 
conquerors wage, but that this Immanuel, thanks to his divine 
superiority, makes the nations submit to him by more rational 
means. He will use the power he has as David's heir, first 
thoroughly to set up his kingdom, and then to support it for all 
time by the weapons of law and righteousness. These are the 
pillars on which he founds his dominion, Hos. ii. 21. His 
superiority then maintains itself and works by moral means. If 
Solomon's wise and righteous policy secured him the homage of 
distant princes and nations, this Anointed One of the future, who 
must be infinitely greater than Solomon, will bring the earth 
into subjection to himself by displaying a higher, divine righteous- 

1 The Arabs have a time-god, whom they call ,p*z. A with which Movers 

compares Isaiah's expression. See my dissertation, p. 10". 

* In Arabic there are innumerable cases to prove that language here acts more freely. 

The jackal is not called "father of howling," but "son of howling" (^c.l .J\)', 
milk, "father of whiteness " (,..j>- *$\ jl), not because it produces whiteness, but 
because whiteness is distinctive of it ; the husband, "father of the wife," because 
she belongs to him (<j^ \\ jl). 


ness. " The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform these things." 
The reference is to the zealous love for his people that removes 
all barriers standing in the way of the consummation of his 

Thus the name Immanuel assigned to the child of the future 
has unfolded itself. Divine wisdom, divine strength, paternal 
love faithful as God's, divine righteousness and peace, are ascribed 
to him, in such a way, indeed, that his person also appears divine ; 
he perfectly exhibits God to the world, consequently his dominion 
is really God's dominion on earth. Certainly Nagelsbach on this 
passage rightly remarks that we must distinguish between the 
Old and New Testament standpoint : Considered from the former, 
the language did not possess the full dogmatic definiteness in 
which it appears to us who stand in the light of the fulfilment. 
But every Judaizing and rationalizing attempt to adapt the 
insignia conferred on the Messiah here to a man of our nature 
degrades them, and with them the Spirit who framed them. One 
alone could claim them as his, and for him they were already 

Did Isaiah then think that the perfect Son of David promised 
was already born at the time when he uttered these words ? Had 
he in view a young scion of this house, like Hezekiah ? This 
cannot be inferred from ver. 5 with any sort of right. If the 
passage were relating what had taken place, then also the govern- 
ment must already have come to the child of promise. Bather 
the preterites belong to just the same category as those of ver. 1. 
The prophet announces what he sees in spirit. But that he 
actually expected the dawn of the Messiah's glorious kingdom in 
the next age, is a supposition running counter to all his other 
predictions of judgment. No doubt the Messianic salvation finds 
points of attachment in the age of the prophet. He contemplates 
it from the horizon of his age ; but the image of the Messianic 
salvation is so sharply severed from the images which his dis- 
courses unroll of the present and future of his contemporaries, 
that it is impossible to combine them in time. He was far from 
holding out hopes to his contemporaries which could not be theirs, 
and the failure of which would have ruined his influence for ever. 
Not the when, but the that, was immovably certain to the prophet 
in regard to the coming of the divine rule on earth through the 
perfect Davidite. But in any case a radical judgment must first 


go forth on the nation, only a remnant of which, the prophet 
unceasingly insists (x. 21 f.), will be converted to the Lord and 
share in His salvation. For even to the arrogant heathen whom 
the Lord uses as a rod, the Assyrian, a day is set, when the Lord 
will reckon with him. He falls before the walls of Jerusalem, as 
a miraculous vision informs the prophet (x. 28 ff.). And from 
rescued Judah, from the humbled house of David, grows up the 
world-wide power of the future, painted in xi. 1 ff. in new 
xi. 1. "And there comes up a twig out of the stump 1 of Jesse, 

2 and a shoot from its roots bears fruit. And there rests upon 
him the Spirit of Yahveh, the spirit of wisdom and of 
understanding, the spirit of counsel and of strength, the spirit 

3 of knowledge and of the fear of Yahveh. And his delight he 
has in the fear of Yahveh, and not according to what his 
eyes see does he speak judgment, and judges not according 

4 to what his ears hear. And he pronounces judgment in 
righteousness to the needy, and passes sentence in equity for 
the defenceless in the land; and smites the earth with the 
staff of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he slays 

5 the wicked ; And righteousness shall be the girdle of his hips, 

6 and faithfulness the girdle of his loins. And the wolf dwells 
with the lamb, and the panther lies down beside the kid, and 
calf and lion and stalled ox together, a little boy driving 

7 them. And cow and bear pasture, their young lie down 

8 together. And the lion eats straw like the bullock. And the 
suckling plays by the hole of the otter, and to the basilisk's 

9 hole the weaned one stretches its hand. 2 They hurt not and 
destroy not in all my holy mountain ; for the land is full of 

1 J,'T3> the stump left standing after the tree is felled ; from yfj, to cut of, fell. 
CL Job xiv. 8 f., and Pliny, xvi. 44: Inarescunt rursiisque adolescunt,senescunt quidem, 
sed e radicibux repullulant. Of the whole nation only such a root-stock is left, 
according to vi. 13. 

a pilpel form (from yy\y, to stroke), in the sense : to dandle, play. 
is probably, as the parallelism suggests, a hole, properly light hole (cf. 
i Judg. vi. 2) ; following the Targum, on the other hand, Delitszch pre- 
fers the meaning: "pupil of the eye," with which Prov. xv. 30 may be compared. 
mn only occurring here, "to stretch out," is found in the Arabic and Svriac in 

T T 

the sense " to lead ; " cf. manum ducere. 'OJJQY is a serpent name (so called from 
hissing) ; according to Aquila, /Jz^/x^xa; ; Vulg. nerpens reyulus, a small but very 
poisonous kind of viper. 


the kuowledge of Yahveh like the waters which cover the 

sea." l 

While Assyria's power lies prostrate, judged by the prophetic 
word, slowly and at first insignificantly there rises before the 
seer's eyes a new power out of the house of David, which also like 
Assyria lies under judgment and deeply humbled. It is no 
longer a royal cedar ; of the felled tree only a root-stock is left, 
but this strikes out again ; and it is on a lowly twig from this tribe 
which has fallen back into the old pre-Davidic obscurity, a tender 
sprig from the remaining root, that God's entire good pleasure 
rests. From it the nation is to expect all salvation, and the 
world a divine rule such as has never been seen. The lowliness 
of the Messiah's beginnings, already intimated in vii. 15, and 
according to that passage connected with the judgment bursting 
over Judah and its royal house, is here explained much more 
definitely. The regal power no longer exists, when its true heir 
grows up out of humble soil. How true Isaiah's knowledge on 
this point was, we know from the history of the fulfilment, 
where the Son of David, scarcely known as such, grew up among 
the least of his nation, and, on a far mightier scale than David, 
traversed the path from unnoticed lowliness to highest honour. 2 

For it is not a fresh growth, a new upcoming that is promised 
to David's house, but the appearance of a particular branchlet, 
the production of which was the divine destiny of the whole 
tree from the beginning. The twig, the shoot of the 1st verse, 
as the 2nd verse proves, is meant in an altogether personal 
sense. 3 Without doubt it is the same person as in vii. 14 f. and 
ix. 5 ff. But whereas in the first passage only his significant 
Immanuel-name and his growth amid the affliction of his people 
were told, while the second unfolded his power based on right and 
aiming at peace, this third time, where his form appears, the pro- 
phetic eye lingers on the intrinsic character of his personality, and 
describes first of all, not his relation to the world, but his relation 

1 As a verbal noun HJH here governs the accusative ; HD3 stands with dative : to 
furnish covering. 

2 The lowly roots of the stem of Jesse had strayed as far as despised Galilee (see 
before on viii. 23). In the fact that Jesus must be a " Nazarene," Matthew (ii. 23) 
sees a literal fulfilment of the present passage, where he is called a Nezer, a twiy, a 
branchlet. In both at least His lowliness is indicated, so that the phonetic type 
has an inner point of support. 

1 It is the Messiah, who is also called Sprout. 


to God. As \ve saw there how the true God appears to the world 
in his person, so here the Messiah appears as true man, perfect 
in godliness and fulfilling the highest destiny of the human race. 
As man he is distinct from God, but the Spirit of God has settled 
upon him. In this lies the mystery of His fellowship with God. 
" Resting upon him is the Spirit of Yahveh." This verb, espe- 
cially when it stands in the participial form, 1 implies that the 
Spirit of God does not come on him intermittently, but has taken 
up his abode permanently with him and become his higher life- 
principle (p. 4). That the Bible by this Spirit denotes, not a 
mere potentiation of creaturely life, but a supernatural life, which, 
however, may and will enter into man, we have seen in the 
Introduction (p. 4). This Sprout of David is seen to be 
thoroughly penetrated and fertilized by the Divine Spirit. All 
his attributes and capacities are fruits of this Spirit, and through 
the one Spirit who confers diverse gifts he unites all the virtues 
adorning a ruler in God's sight and salutary to His people. Here 
follows the enumeration in pairs. The series is opened by wisdom 
and understanding, both together forming Solomon's high pre- 
eminence (1 Kings v. 9 f.), which he besought from God as the 
highest good (iii. 5 ff.). Whilst """pan denotes generally rational 
insight and knowledge, ethical in its grounds and aims, nra more 
specifically is the gift of discrimination, judgment, which dis- 
tinguishes between good and evil, an aspect of the faculty of 
knowledge especially important to a king in his judicial duties. 2 
As he is thus divinely qualified to be a judge, so the same Spirit 
supplies him with the insight in counsel and energy in action so 
requisite for a ruler; see ix. 5 : pyv fc6a and nuj ta. But such 
wisdom and power as he exercises in the world come to him from 
the fact that Yahveh Himself is the goal of his life and effort. 
The spirit of the knowledge and fear of God fills him. The njn, 
to which mrp belongs as object, here and in ver. 9 as in Hosea, is 
not merely intellectual, but refers to deep spiritual fellowship with 
the Lord. And to this is added reverence for the Lord, the piety 
which was not faultless in David, but in Solomon was altogether 
lost. Here plainly the Messiah is not half-Deity or deified man, 
but true man, taking in all respects the position befitting man in 
God's presence. And just because he fulfils all God's will, he 

1 Otherwise in Num. XL 26 ; 2 Kings ii. 15. 

2 Cf. the use of pan, |i3i, along with can. 1 Kings iii. 9, 11, 12. 


stands far above the most religious kings who sat on David's 
throne, and bears worthily the divine dignity bestowed on him. 
Thus the Divine Spirit parts in a sense into three pairs. Delitzsch 
compares the "" nn to the shaft of the seven-branched lamp, from 
which three pairs of branches project. In any case the number 
seven, the number of divine perfection, does not occur here 
by accident. 1 

How this heaven-inspired king treats his subjects is told in 
ver. 3 f. As he is himself the impersonation of the fear of God, 
so also such fear in them is to him a perfume 2 in which he 
delights. And since he is wisdom and judgment in embodied 
form, he does not give sentence according to outward appear- 
ance, often so deceitful, or according to mere hearsay, often so 
unfounded, but reads the heart and detects the true state of 
things, even where it is not obvious. He will help to their rights 
those without influence and without means of obtaining any, the 
friendless poor and the defenceless or harmless ( a ^j?, see p. 246), 
who lie at the mercy of their foes, whereas otherwise they are 
always worsted, Ps. Ixxii. 2, 4 ; for the righteousness that knows 
no respect of persons is the only rule by which he judges. On 
this very account all wickedness must receive its sentence from 
his mouth. His Spirit-filled mouth is in a sense the royal staff, 
with which he smites the earth ; the breath going forth from his 
lips slays the reprobate. Consequently it is a spiritual authority 
by which he establishes, extends, and maintains his power (cf. 
ix. 6), namely, his spotless righteousness. His weapon is his 
word (cf. Zech. ix. 10), which suffices everywhere to secure 
victory for righteousness and execute judgment. Ver. 5 con- 
cludes the portrait of Jesse's great Son : " the girdle about his 
hips," i.e. always encircling him, 3 in a certain sense holding 
together his glorious armour, endowing him with firm, energetic 
mien, is righteousness, fidelity, stedfastness. In this latter 
virtue immovable fidelity to God the best rulers of Israel 
at times showed themselves wanting. Only to One does the 
description apply, to Him who, growing up in the deepest lowli- 
ness, showed unexampled love to the poor and needy, while from 
His mouth goes forth a two-edged sword (Rev. i. 16), that judges 

1 Cf. Zech. iii. 8 ; Rev. iv. 5, v. 6. 

H'nn with 3, in the same meaning as in Amos v. 21. 
8 Cf. the trope, Job xxix. 14. 


all wickedness on earth. The V^7- nere * s quite general. X<i 
doubt, according to the N. T. revelation, 1 all wickedness also 
will be concentrated in one person, the Antichrist, who opposes 
himself to the Messiah. And to him Paul applies this term, 
2 Thess. ii. 8. 

The future ruler having been thus described, the peaceful state 
under his rule is pictured ; the sequence of thought is therefore 
here the reverse of what it is in chap. ix. There, first the abolition 
of war was promised, and the birth of the Messiah assigned as 
the cause; here, first the Messiah is described, then His peaceful 
kingdom. And how is this done? Not political peace, as in 
chaps, ii. and vii., but a truce of nature is depicted. "Wolf and 
lamb, panther and kid, dwell together ; the lion lets itself be 
driven to pasture between calf and stalled ox, and is satisfied 
with the fodder of the bullock. Even from the most deadly 
serpent a venturesome child lias nothing to fear. Thus the most 
dangerous beasts of prey have become harmless ; the nature of 
the most ravenous beasts is completely changed in the holy 
mount of Yahveh, i.e. in His holy territory, which, according to 
ver. 9, embraces the whole land. 

This passage, the rival of ii. 1 ff. in simplicity and grandeur, 
reminds first of Hos. ii. 20, 2 but is more than an enlargement of 
that promise, according to which the animal world is to be put 
under a divine ban to do no harm to God's people. The detailed 
account of the good understanding prevailing among the beasts, 
the most feared being no longer terrible, the weakest being no 
longer the prey of the strong, implies that the peace proceeding 
from this ruler will be shared in by the whole of nature, from 
which, of course, calm and security accrue to men. No hurtful, 
destructive powers are found in the land, so richly will it flow 
with the knowledge of the Lord, so permeated will it be by the 
Divine Spirit, who dispenses life and love. The conclusion (ver. 9) 
leaves no doubt that the human world is included in the divine 
peace proceeding from the blessed transformation of nature, and 
what is to be seen most vividly in the animal world will appeal- 
above all in men. They need an analogous transformation. For 
human, like animal life, supports itself commonly by a conflict 
for existence. Men have by nature something animal in them ; 
and this reinforced by sin provokes them against each other. All 
1 Cf. the Book of Daniel. J Cf. the opposite, Hos. ii. 14. See p. 233. 


the world's civilisation does not abolish this animal nature ; it 
simply clothes its immoral struggle for existence in finer garb, 
and furnishes it with more intellectual weapons, but at last makes 
the baseness of its aims come out all the more nakedly. 1 There 
is but one power that miraculously lifts men above this inborn 
selfishness, that is, the revelation of God, spiritual fellowship with 
Him. If man is not transformed into divinity, he sinks into 
bestiality. And the miracle of this transformation is quite as 
great as for the lion, whose teeth and jaws are intended for eating 
llesh, to feed on straw. But the miraculous takes place when 
God's kingdom is established. There the selfish nature gives 
place to a higher spirit, and thus peace comes on earth. Not 
without reason, therefore, has the Messiah in the New Covenant 
laid down a complete new birth as the condition of partaking in 
His kingdom. Moreover, He has been true to His promise. 
The Spirit whom He promised conquers in point of fact the most 
stubborn and powerful, the most selfish and interested natures, 
producing in them the fruits enumerated in Gal. v. 22. 

But if in this description of Isaiah its reference to the human 
world and its inner as well as outer transformation forces itself 
irresistibly on us, was the oracle meant to exhaust itself in this 
reference, and only to speak allegorically of the irrational crea- 
tion ? Or did the prophet expect also a metamorphosis of the 
latter ? It is true here as in Joel, that in the prophet's vision 
there is an interpenetration of concrete and abstract, nature and 
spirit, human world and earthly creation, which the prophet does 
not analyse by a process of reflection, but gives in conjunction, 
just as he saw it. And no explanation is perfectly satis- 
factory that does not yield this unity. Until the destructive 
nature-powers really become harmless, and the sad struggle 
for existence comes to an end in the whole of nature, this pro- 
phecy stands as a hieroglyph pointing to the future of God's ways. 
When once the divine rule is firmly established in the human 
world, then creation also, which is designed to be man's servant, 
will be redeemed from the ban of baleful conflict and death 

1 Think only of the modern science that treats men as mere animals. According 
to what has been said before, there is much truth in this view. But the fearfully 
immoral consequences of such a theory are as yet rightly apprehended by few, 
although those are not wanting who shamelessly avow them, and would erect animal 
egoism, according to which the strong are to destroy the weak, into the principle of 
private and civil life. 


burdening it, as the apostle, resuming Old Testament prophecy, 
teaches in Rom. viii. 19 ff. Then only does the bite of the 
serpent cease to be deadly to man, as is promised here and in 
Isa. Ixv. 25, not without a backward glance at Gen. iii. The 
woe which the world inflicts upon the sinner terminates. The 
world itself has become new. 

True, the beatifying of God's Church is extended in the oracle 
just considered to the irrational creation, always with a local 
limitation to the holy mountain of God, as the land of Canaan is 
here called in a wider sense. Only so far as the rule of the 
Messiah goes can there be peace, and only where He dwells can 
the entire glory of God's grace be revealed. But this glory will 
be so great that the nations will set out thither to enjoy it. 

xi. 10. " And it will come to pass in that day : the root-sprout l 
of Jesse, which stands as a banner to the nations, the heathen 
will seek after it. 2 And its resting-place will be glorious." 

Thus the banner, the signal, is the Davidic shoot, visible to the 
nations around; it beckons them to Zion, whither they eagerly 
journey to partake in the saving blessings there dispensed. Of 
what nature these are is more fully stated in ii. 1 ff., which 
passage, however, receives its necessary complement from the 
present one, inasmuch as we are told here that it is the divinely 
unique Davidite who is the occasion of the pilgrimage of the 
nations, and through whom the whole world receives God's law 
and judgment by peaceful means. By the resting-place, which 
is glory, honour, i.e. altogether glorious and honourable, is of 
course understood, not his grave, as the Vulg. 3 renders (giving 
the Romish Church a welcome handle for worshipping the Holy 
Sepulchre), but the residence of this much-sought king, which will 
be more stately and glorious than that of Solomon. 

Finally, in Isaiah also the return of the exiles is not wanting 
as an essential feature in the picture of the Messianic future. 
From all lands they are gathered, ver. 11 f. Then the saved 
" remnant " of the people will sing a new song to the Lord, which 
in chap. xii. forms the harmonious conclusion of the cycle of 

1 Here uh{jj stands briefly for this. Also observe here the contrast of lowliness 
and dignity in tjnb? and DJ. 

2 PX E^n, not : to inquire (Knobel), but : to seek after, certainly for the purpose 
of obtaining counsel and direction, as in Deut. xii. 5. 

3 Et erit sepulcrum ejus gloriosum. 


Messianic oracles. The Book of Imrnanuel ends with this choral 
echo from the bosom of the ransomed Church. 

NOTE A. The correct division of the words is seen neither by 
the Masoretes nor expositors. Hence many incorrectly prefer the 
keri b. inob> is a relative sentence (Knobel), but not: "Thou 
increasest to him the joy, which they rejoice before thee," where 
the rhythm would ent'irely vanish. Also Studer's emendation 
( Jalirl. fur prot. Theol, 1881. i. 160 f.) : ^an for ^n, is unsatisfac- 
tory. The antithesis of JVa"]? and fi/HJn fcO is the same as in 
ver. 23 : between the poor, wretched present and the glorious future, 
nnptfn is not ace. obj. (so Masora, Steudel, Delitzsch, Gesenius, 
Ewald, Nagelsbach), but nominative. One would certainly expect 
here "1B>K as after determined nouns. It may, however, be absent 
in Hebrew even after such nouns (otherwise in Arabic), Ewald, 
Gram. 332a. Gaudium gaudere, says the Hebrew, like n3jp N3P, 
Zech. viii. 2. 

31. Further Oracles of Isaiah respecting Zion, chap, xxviii.-xxxix. 

The series of oracles considered in the last section pre- 
sents in personal setting the theocratic Davidic monarchy 
emerging safely from the judgment, and shows how it will 
pass from the humiliation of the age of punishment into 
glory never before seen. A further series of genuine Isaianic 
oracles comes to us from the days of Hezekiah, in which not the 
personal, but the local cry stall izing-point of God's kingdom is 
most conspicuous. God's dwelling in Zion, inseparably joined 
with David's Messianic royalty, will be indestructible as that 
royalty, and despite all judgments will but assume a more 
divine and perfect form. The divine arrangement revealed in 
David's time had two sides, the raising of a human royal house 
to divine honour, and the descent of God to dwell for ever in an 
earthly place (pp. 148, 186). The significance of the one as of the 
other trait for the future was seen by Isaiah in new grandeur. He 
was led by the circumstances of the time to proclaim the divine 
dignity and significance of Zion, inasmuch as this abode of God 
was threatened by the Assyrians with the destruction which had 
actually overtaken the neighbouring Samaritan adulteress. The 
miraculous preservation of Zion, foretold by our prophet, from 
this overwhelming foe, was to be a sign to all the world of the 
power of Yahveh, who had taken His seat on the holy hill of 


Jerusalem. But as the sayings respecting Iramanuel, despite 
their comforting nature, presented a keen edge to the present 
generation, so the Zion-oracles are not without severity for the 
Jerusalem of the day, which must pass through judgment before 
God's dwelling there in His Church can be consummated. It is 
true, Isaiah promises to the city God's gracious protection in the 
impending Assyrian catastrophe, but the judgment on its inhabit- 
ants, formerly announced by him and also threatened under 
Hezekiah, will not fail. The prophet at last foretells this 
judgment in definite form as a deportation to Babylon, to which, 
however, he adds the promise of return, the true Church of Zion 
being imperishable. 

Isa. xxviii., uttered in the first years of Hezekiah 's govern- 
ment, while proud Samaria was yet standing (therefore before 
722 B.C.), announces the abrupt end of the latter (due to the 
Assyrians) ; yet here the rebuke turns against the great at 
Jerusalem, as in chap. vii. against Ahaz. As the latter trusted 
secretly in Assyria instead of in the true God, so the nobles 
trusted in an alliance secretly and illegally made with Egypt. 1 
In such false trust in a worldly power they abandoned them- 
selves to wanton lust, disregarding and violating right in the 
teeth of the prophet's admonitions and the divine judgments 
announced by him, fancying that they were secured against 
death and Hades by their covering of lies and shelter of deceit, 
xxviii. 16. "Therefore thus speaks Yahveh, Lord of all: 
Behold, I have founded 2 in Zion a stone, a stone of trial, a 
corner-stone, precious, in founding well-founded. 3 "Whoever 
17 trusts shall not need to flee. And I make right the plumb- 
line and righteousness the level, and hail sweeps away the 
covering of lies, and waters wash away the shelter." 
Thus the worldly power, the human place of refuge, built up 
of lies and deceit, will furnish no shelter against the judgment 

1 With xxviii. 15, cf. xxix. 15, xxx. 2 ff., xxxi. 1 ff. 

a Construction as in xxxviii. 5. 

3 fi3S is to be taken, with Delitzseh, as the beginning of a new phrase (not joined 
gfiiitivally to what precedes). After being called a touchstone, the stone is called 
a "corner of precious quality," i.e. 2^ecious corner-stone. The preciousness is 
characteristic of it, it is a gem (1 Kings v. 31) ; and at the same time it is adapted 
to be the corner-stone by reason of its firmness, which is especially emphasized by 
the repeated 1D1D (the former a noun, the latter part, hoph.), properly "precious 
corner-stone of well-founded founding." 


raining down from above, its foundation cannot resist the down- 
rushing flood of doom ; but the foundation laid in Zion by the 
Lord Himself does this that immovable foundation-stone and 
corner-stone, on which all adverse power is broken and judgment on 
Zion's foes is executed. By this stone, whose firmness and divine 
preciousness the seer cannot find words enough to praise, is not to 
be understood the city or citadel itself, 1 for, on the contrary, the 
dwellers in Jerusalem are to be shattered in their false confidence, 
nor the temple (Ewald), which is just as little a foundation, but 
the beginning of the divine rule on this mountain, which bore the 
citadel of David as well as the temple. We understand the 
divine act of foundation, not of the divine decree passed long 
ago, but of its historical realization (as in Ps. ii. 6), which belongs 
in Isaiah's eyes to the past, because it falls within the Davidic 
epoch. That one divine act, to which Davidic monarchy and 
Solomonic temple owed their origin, alone was an irrevocable 
foundation-laying, on which all the Lord's further work would 
rest, and by which all men were to be guided, if their building 
and work were not to be condemned in the final judgment. 
Thus not Jerusalem in itself is impregnable, nor the Davidic 
royal power in itself unconquerable, nor the temple indestructible; 
but the decree of the divine election of Zion, made known long 
ago by prophetic word, forms the imperishable beginning of the 
dwelling and rule of God on earth, which must needs be com- 
pleted. Well then for those who base their trust thereon. 

This stone is called a stone of trial, touchstone, i.e. not one that 
is itself chosen, tested, but by which everything must be tested 
and tried, according to viii. 14, where the Lord Himself is called 
a stone of stumbling and rock of offence, etc. ; whereas here the 
stone denotes His revelation and personal work in the world. 
Thus the oracle, like the sign of Immanuel, has a double aspect : 
Something immovable is set forth as the object of true confidence, 
but also as a contrast to every other refuge having no per- 
manence. Ver. 17 deals further with both sides, but points 
especially to the negative side : The Lord continues building on 
His stone, His line being straightness and His level righteousness. 
The conduct of the men who are to share in the salvation of the 
God who dwells on Zion, must, as already taught in Ps. xxiv. 3 ff., 
agree with the ethical character of His fundamental revelation 

1 Hitzig, Knobel, Reuss, et al., after xiv. 32. 


(Isa. xxxiii. 15). Else they are rejected along with their work. 
Whatever proves not straight when measured by that line and 
level His judgment sweeps away, a result described further after 
the analogy of the general Flood : Torrents of rain congealed into 
hail from above, billows from beneath, the prophet at the same 
time alluding (ver. 21 f.) to such divine judgments as the 
national history furnished in the victories of a David and Joshua 
over the heathen. 

But the disposition forming the main condition on man's part 
of God's favour and help, according to the last words of 
xxviii. 16, as well as vii 9, xxx. 15, is believing trust in the God 
of salvation, who has already laid His foundation-stone, on which 
we may and should build. It is early said of Abraham (p. 105), 
Gen. xv. G : "He believed, trusted (PP.*? 1 ! 1 ), 1 and God reckoned it 
to him for righteousness " ( n ^V). While such a believer is not 
perfectly righteous in every respect, the normal disposition 
towards God is seen in such trust in the divine promise. After- 
wards Hab. ii. 4 especially emphasizes this, and again the New 
Testament most effectively. That faith, as full inward surrender 
to the Lord, is on man's side the condition of salvation this 
fundamental part of evangelical truth was already revealed to 
the prophets of the Old Covenant, and Isaiah in particular pro- 
poses such faith as the mark of the genuine Church of Zion 
that cleaves to the divine foundation and outlives the judgment.'-' 

Isaiah's discourses xxix.-xxxiii. unfold further the theme given 
(chap, xxviii.) in the divine foundation-stone on Zion and the 
relation of the inhabitants to it ; xxxvi.-xxxix. give the applica- 
tion of this revelation to the great events transpiring under 
Hezekiah. Moreover, chaps, xxxiv. and xxxv. must not be denied 
to be the prophet's. They form the indispensable key-stone of 
his prophecy of the city of God. 

As the Lord took up His abode long ago in Jerusalem, so now, 
in the age of the prophet, the energy of His gracious presence on 
Zion is at work a power superior to all the world, and guarding 

1 }TDS to be or make firm, forms a hiph., expressing firm disposition in relation to 
something, firm faith (of. part. nlph. |OSJ, faithful, stedfast), like the Arabic 

\ ; hence the LXX. rightly rendered it by r<rrivi<. 

* See afterwards the preliminary fulfilment of the oracle of Isa. xxviii. 16, 
celebrated in Pa. cxviii. 22 if. after the exile. 


His own city, provided its inhabitants, especially its princes, are 
filled with confident faith and observe the divine law. For this 
reason the prophet exhorts to immovable confidence in the promise 
of divine protection, and protests above all against seeking refuge in 
the world-power (Egypt). The invisible power dwelling on Zion 
is the sole rock of salvation. It will prove itself all-sufficient. 
Although Isaiah sees in spirit the city 1 girdled by countless foes, 
they will come to shame before it. So xxix. 18. The Lord will 
descend, like a lion that fears not a crowd of shepherds, to fight 
for His holy mountain against the besieging heathen. He will 
hover protectingly round Jerusalem, like a bird round its brood, 
xxxi. 4 f. Assyria will fall by the sword, but not by that of a 
man (ver. 8). If Isaiah spoke so confidently even before the 
invasion of the Assyrians, he could do so still more boldly 
after the fearful danger had come home to the minds of all, 
inspiring wholesome terror, chap, xxxiii. The message he sent 
to Hezekiah on the appearance of the Assyrians before the walls 
of the city is told in xxxvii. 6 f., 21-35. What is meant by the 
protection of Yahveh and the revelation of His salvation in 
behalf of His chosen city, the God-trusting Hezekiah was per- 
mitted to experience in wondrous fashion, when in those days 
Sennacherib's army succumbed to an invisible power before 
Jerusalem's walls. 

But as already in chap, xxviii. the unbelieving, unrighteous 
generation at Jerusalem was threatened with the inexorable 
justice of the Lord, so also this threat runs through the Hezekiah- 
discourses of Isaiah, becoming more and more definite in form, 
until finally, when the good Hezekiah also gave way to worldli- 
ness, it passed into an unambiguous prediction of the Babylonian 
exile. See xxix. 9 ff., xxx. 1 ff., xxxi. 1 ff., xxxii. 9 ff., especially 
xxxii. 13, 14, and finally, xxxix. 5 ff. 

But it is impossible for such a judgment to be the end of 
God's ways in relation to His city. The divine foundation-stone 
on Zion was laid irrevocably and immovably. As the prophet 

1 ta'HN it is called xxix. 1 f., which according to xxxi. 9 (xxxiii. 14) and Ezek. 

xliii. 15 f. is to be explained : hearth of God (not : lion of God] ; cf. Arabic -c,|, 

to burn, whence y .\, focus. Jerusalem is God's fire-place, where His altar burnc, 


thus His native abode. 



looks (xxix. 9 ff.) on a nation blind and deaf to his glorious 
promises, the certainty grows on him that the Lord must deal 
with it in strange fashion before it will understand his revela- 
tion for its own good. But the time of conversion will come, 
xxix. 17 ff. 

17 "Is it not yet a little, and Lebanon is turned into 
a fruit-garden, and the fruit-garden is esteemed a forest ? 

18 And in that day the deaf shall hear the words of the book, 
and out of obscurity and darkness the eyes of the blind shall 

19 see, and the lowly shall increase in joy in Yahveh, and the 
poorest of men rejoice in the Holy One of Israel," etc. 

A blessed transformation of the Holy Land and people is here 
promised. Ver. 17 (like xxxii. 15) is not a proverbial phrase 
to express the exalting of the low and the humbling of the high, 
but like xxx. 26, a prophetic hyperbole, to picture the divine 
fertilizing and glorifying of the land. Lebanon is changed into 
a fruit-bearing orchard ; and what is now called an orchard will 
be regarded as a mere forest in view of the enhanced fertility 
then witnessed. But side by side with this divinely-caused 
metamorphosis of the land will go a corresponding one of tlie 
people. Now it is dull and unreceptive to the book of prophetic 
revelation, then the deaf shall hear and the blind see. And the 
divine mystery of salvation, to which they are then receptive, 
will make the lowly, the poor, the harmless, defenceless and 
destitute in the world, rich in joy ; while the mockery of un- 
belief is silenced, and the oppression of injustice put down. Then 
God's people, seeing the work of the Lord in its midst, is saved 
lor ever, vers. 22-24. 

In this description of the removal of grievous human infir- 
mities (where xxxii. 3 f. and xxxv. 5 f. are to be taken into 
account), spiritual blindness, deafness, etc., are first considered. 
But in these chapters, as in the similar ones in Deutero-Isaiah, 
physical and spiritual again pass into each other very conspicu- 
ously ; in xxxv. 5 f. especially, bodily defects are not excluded. 

Christ did this gracious work for His Church by opening the 
eyes and ears of men, that they might know God's revelation. 
But not only did He enlighten them spiritually, but gave living 
expression to this redemption of His by the bodily healings 
which quite specifically constituted His miraculous activity. By 
these miraculous deeds, which were not merely works of mercy, 


bat in the intention of Jesus were meant to be " signs," He also 
in a spiritual sense opened the eyes and ears of the people that 
knew the Scripture, making known to them who He was : namely, 
He by whom God's people was to be consummated. 1 But it is 
important that the fulfilment should show in the work of Christ 
the same interblending of spiritual and physical that the prophecy 
does. Christ by no means brought a merely spiritual truth pre- 
sented by 0. T. prophecy in a more external form, but, as 
comparison with the present passage shows, he realized the letter 
of prophecy still more completely than was meant. For man is 
not mere spirit ; if he is to be completely redeemed, he must be 
saved body and soul. And the God of the Bible works not 
merely in the ideal, invisible sphere, but just as much in the out- 
ward and real. 

The " lowly and poor," who under the existing unjust govern- 
ment cannot get their rights, have special cause, according to 
Isa. xxix. 19, to exult over the revelation of the gracious God. 
By these is not meant merely a certain social class, but one 
ethically disposed in a special way to receive salvation, 2 the class 
of the meek and poor in spirit, as Matt. v. 3, 5 calls them ; 
whilst Luke vi. 20 is content with using the 0. T. phrase 
D'^K. Even outward poverty belongs, according to prophecy 
and fulfilment, to the qualities disposing favourably to God's 
kingdom. As Jesus performed most of His deeds on the lame 
and blind, so He mostly gathered His Church, to which He 
promised the kingdom of heaven, from the poorest of the 
children of men. 3 But in doing the latter, and that from the 
beginning of His ministry, He made known unmistakably that 
He had brought about that completion of God's kingdom, to 
which the prophets bore witness. Thus the Sermon on the 
Mount in its very first words is of pre-eminent Christological 

In Isa. xxx. 1826 also a blessed future of Zion is promised, 
the range of which extends beyond the deliverance of the city 

1 Matt. xi. 4 f. ; Luke vii. 22. In John ix. 3, Jesus declares (cf. ver. 39) what He 
wished to make known by the healing of the man born blind. Cf. on the symbolic 
meaning of the several miracles of Jesus, Steinmeyer, The Miracles of our Lord 

2 On uy, cf. p. 246. 

3 Cf. a'lso 1 Kings i. 26 ff. ; Jas. ii. 5 f. 


from the Assyrian army first treated of. By the Lord's mercy, 
safety and wellbeing will follow on tribulation, when the nation 
has learnt to mark the teachings of revelation, and to set aside 
idolatry. There follows a state of peace and abundance 
(described as in Joel iii. 18 ; Hos. ii. 23, etc.), after the bul- 
warks of the land, on which fleshly confidence relied, 1 have 
fallen, and a sanguinary judgment has gone forth on its martial 
power : 

25 "On every high mountain and every lofty hill there 
shall be brooks gushing with water, 011 the day of the 

26 great carnage, when the towers fall, and the moonlight shall 
be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun shall be 
sevenfold as the light of seven days, on the day when 
Yahveh binds the breach of His people and heals its scars." 

Whilst heaven and earth are thus glorified for God's purified 
people, according to xxx. 27 ff. the Lord comes to judge the 
heathen with a mighty revelation of His wrath, whereas joyous 
festal songs echo in Zion. As often as the rod descends on 
Assyria (the world-power), there drums beat and harps play. 

In xxxii. 1 ff. also a bright picture is unrolled of God's future 
people, in which, in contrast with the present time, just rule on 
the part of the great and docility to God's revelation on the part 
of the people, form the chief features. Because things are now so 
utterly different, the doom of desolation and captivity must first 
come (vers. 9-14). 

15 "Until the Spirit is poured out on us from on high, 
and the desert becomes a fruit-garden, and fruit-garden is 

16 reckoned a forest, and right takes up its dwelling in the 
desert, and righteousness takes its seat in the fruit-garden ; 

17 and the gain of righteousness will be peace, and the wages 

18 of righteousness rest and security for ever. And my people 
shall settle in peaceful pasture, and in secure dwellings, and 
cheerful resting-places." 

The end then cannot be the overthrow and humbling of the 
Holy Land and God's city, 2 but an exalting and glorifying of 
the abode of God's people, such as Joel promised. The latter's 
prophecy of a physical and spiritual rain (Joel ii. 23, 28) 

1 Cf. Isa. ii. 15 ; Micah v. 9 f. 

8 Ver. 19, like ver. 13 f., is to be referred to Jerusalem. A protracted desolation 
of the city will precede the new birth from above. 


explains the above passage, where the two features, the physical 
and the spiritual glorifying of the land, are combined as the effect 
of one dispensing of the Spirit. Judgment and righteousness form 
the soul of this landscape, in a sense possess it as inhabitants 
and cultivators. Hosea especially foretold this as the blessed 
final state (Hos. ii. 21 ff.). 

Also the glorious description of Zion in chap, xxxiii., which 
refers primarily to the deliverances from the Assyrian crisis, 1 
speaks of an imperishable glory of the city of God, that will 
first dawn when God has cleansed it from sin and sinners. A 
prelude of this the city enjoys at present, unbelieving frivolity 
having been banished by severity of suffering, and sinners con- 
fessing the holiness of the God who rules among them. 

xxxiii. 5. " Exalted is Yahveh, for He dwells in the height, 
He fills Zion with judgment and righteousness. And there 
shall be stedfastness of thy 2 times, a store of experiences of 
salvation, wisdom, and knowledge ; the fear of Yahveh, it is 
its treasure." 

The cleansing that proceeds from the holy fire dwelling in 
the city, therefore from God revealing Himself in His holiness, 
according to ver. 14 will so purify the Church that it will 
assume the character prescribed in Ps. xxiv. Then dishonour 
of the king and beleaguerment are no longer known, 
xxxiii. 17. "Thine eyes shall behold the King in His 

20 beauty, 3 they shall look upon a land of breadths. 4 Behold 
Zion, the city of our assembly : 5 thine eyes shall see Jeru- 
salem a cheerful home, a tent that wanders not, whose pegs 
are never drawn out, and none of its ropes are broken. 

21 Rather is Yahveh there glorious for us in a place of 
streams, canals broad on both sides : 6 No rowing-vessel may 

22 go thereon, nor any stately ship sail over it. For Yahveh 
is our Judge, Yahveh our Captain, Yahveh our King : He 

1 On the date of this oracle see the Commentary of Knobel ami Diestel. 

2 The suffix, like that of il^ix> applies to the nation. 

3 Cf. Ps. xlv. 3. 

4 A territory of broad, free expanse, in opposition to the present state of be- 

5 Technical term for a holy festal gathering ; cf. xxx. 29. 

* Yahveh takes the place of the streams and canals guarding other great 
cities, especially Nineveh and Babylon. On such a stream no warship ventures. 
Jerusalem is therefore unapproachable by the foe. 


2 4 will deliver us. And no inhabitant shall say : I am sick. 
The people settled in it is freed from guilt." ] 

Here, too, the local city of God remains the comprehensive 
framework for the perfect Church of the future. But its earthly 
character has been greatly spiritualized. It is guarded, not by 
walls and towers, but by the Lord Himself, who surrounds it like 
an impassable stream. And no inhabitant is without forgiveness, 
so that the sickness that is a penalty of special sin, and that so 
disturbs the normal course of life, no longer exists. 

The revenge inflicted on the world, on all nations, and chiefly 
on Edom, for the injury done to Zion, is described in chap, xxxiv. 
It is in harmony with the unique dignity of the city of God, that 
the world-judgment comes on its account (from which it alone is 
spared, according to xxviii. 22) ; it is therefore the spiritual 
starting-point of God's judicial work on earth, cf. Joel iii. And 
this judgment is so universal that even the heavens, as belonging 
to the visible creation, are drawn with their starry host into 

xxxiv. 4. " And the whole army of heaven moulders away 
and the heaven is rolled up like a book, and all its army 
withers as a leaf withers from the vine and withered leaves 
5 from the fig-tree. For my sword revels in heaven," etc. 

The latter passage refers not to a preceding judgment of the 
nations, but to one on heavenly powers, as xxiv. 21 proves, to be 
spoken of afterwards. Chap. xxx. 26 already hinted at a new 
creating of the heavens. 

Finally, chap. xxxv. speaks of the return of those banished (to 
Babylon) through the desert to Zion. Then when the Lord 
appears in the desert to lead His people back to Canaan, as 
once before, the desert shall bloom with beauty. Then the 
healing announced before of all the ills of the people will 
take place, ver. 5 f. ; here spiritual and bodily ailments are not 
distinguished; then a sacred pilgrimage will be made to Zion, 
whither none that is impure journeys. 

xxxv. 10. " And the redeemed of the Lord will return and 
come to Zion with shouting, with eternal joy on their head. 
They obtain gladness and joy, and lamenting and complaining 
have given way." 

Chapters xxxiv. and xxxv. are often denied to be by the 

1 Properly " removed from guilt," i.e. its guilt is removal. 


prophet Isaiah. In point of fact they show close affinity to 
Deutero-Isaiah. This, however, is not decisive, since their con- 
nection with xxviii.-xxxii. is as close as possible, and they 
form a necessary conclusion to the series of Isaiah's Zion- 
oracles. As this prophet most emphatically announced the 
immovableness of the city of God, and as undeniably predicted 
the overthrow of Jerusalem and the banishment of its inhabit- 
ants (xxxii. 1114, xxxix. 6), his prophecy must necessarily 
conclude with the return of the Church of Zion and its elevation 
above the world. 1 Here Isaiah gave the theme which a later 
prophet expanded further (chaps, xl.-lxvi.), who for this very 
reason seemed to be no other than Isaiah himself, but in reality 
built on his oracles, unfolding their import, which events were 
beginning gloriously to confirm, before the eyes of his banished 

32. Isaiah's Visions respecting the Nations and the Judgment of 
the World, as well as respecting the glorifying of the World 
out of Zion, chap, xiii. xxvii. 

Between the discourses of Immanuel (from the time of Ahaz) 
and the oracles about Zion (from the days of Hezekiah) there is 
interposed in our present Book of Isaiah a collection of Isaianic 
oracles about foreign nations (chaps, xiii. xxiii.). Since these for 
the most part only contain elements of a subordinate character 
for Messianic prophecy, we need not discuss the critical attacks 
on several of them, which are denied to be by Isaiah. Here 
naturally the negative side of the divine rule predominates. 
Judgment prepares the ground for it, going forth on all proud 
world-powers. But judgment also leads the heathen, as Isaiah 
shows, to the knowledge of the true God and even to incorpora- 
tion in His kingdom. In the oracle against Babylon (xiii.-xiv. 
23), which as we saw came within Isaiah's horizon as Judah's 
last and most dangerous foe, nay, conqueror, the " Day of the 
Lord " that will come on this world - power is described in 
allusion to Joel 2 as a dark judgment-day, when all the nations 
will fall on Babylon, above which the heavens gather blackness. 

1 See the literary and critical proofs in favour of the Isaianic composition of chap, 
xxxiv. and xxxv. in Delitzsch's Commentary (3rd ed.), p. 356 f. 
* Cf. xiii. 6, 9 f., with Joel i. 15, ii. 1 f., 10 (Amos v. 20). 


Chap. xiv. 24-27 announces to Assyria the judgment of the 
Lord of hosts, chap. xiv. 28-32 to the Philistines, where the 
imperishable and mighty future of the Davidic rule is made 
prominent despite the humiliations suffered under Ahaz from the 
Philistines (2 Chron. xxviii. 18 f.). Although the people of 
God are poor, they stand under God's protection. And the 
shattered sceptre of David will grow to unimagined strength : 
From the root of the serpent a basilisk will come forth, and its 
fruit will be a flying dragon. In the oracle against Moab 
(chaps, xv., xvi.) xvi. 1 if. are noteworthy. Deeply humbled and 
sorely afflicted, Moab submits to the judge throned in David's 
tent, who has won its confidence and homage by humanity and 
righteousness ; whereas the ravaging world-power only drove it 
to despair, since it found no help in its god against that power. 
Chap. xvii. pictures the visitation coming on Damascene Syria 
and Ephraim in alliance with it, the result of which will be that 
Jacob, turning its back on false gods, will again look to the 
Holy One of Israel. According to the remarkable oracle in chap, 
xviii., even the Ethiopians, brought to the knowledge of the true 
God by the impending overthrow of the greatest world-empire 
(Assyria), will bring gifts of homage to Mount Zion. By these 
presents are not meant scattered Israelites, as in Isa. Ixvi. 20. 
The far-stretching, smooth Ethiopian people itself seems to be 
offered as a gift to the Lord, whereas in Zeph. iii. 10 it offers 

If thus already in the oracles about Moab and Ethiopia we 
see God's plan to bring these heathen by the now imminent 
world-judgments to acknowledge His greatness, in the oracle about 
Egypt (chap, xix.) this fact comes out with wonderful clearness. 
There is no sufficient reason for denying this oracle to be Isaiah's, 
since his authorship is confirmed from every quarter. 1 The 
judgment falling on Egypt by Assyrian invasion is a visitation of 
Yahveh, the God of Judah, who foretold it (see chap, xx.), and 
proves Himself alone superior to the conqueror. Hence a sacred 
terror will come on the Egyptians at the thought of what they 
have witnessed : 

xix. 16. "In that day shall the Egyptians be like women 

and tremble and shake at the swinging of the hand of 

17 Yahveh, that He swings against them, and the land of 

1 See Caspar! in the Luth. Ze'tuchrift, 1841, Heft 3. 


Judah shall be a terror to Egypt. As oft as one mentions it 
before it, it shall quake because of the decree of Yahveh of 

18 hosts that He makes concerning it. On that day shall five 
cities be in the land of Egypt, speaking Canaan's language 
and swearing to Yahveh of hosts. Ir-ra-Heres shall one of 

10 them be called. On that day an altar to Yahveh shall stand 
in the midst of the land of Egypt, and an obelisk on its 

20 border to Yahveh. And this 1 shall be for a sign and testi- 
mony to Yahveh of hosts in the land of Egypt ; when they cry 
to Yahveh against oppressors, He will send a deliverer and a 

2 1 champion who will save them. And Yahveh makes Himself 
known to the Egyptians, and the Egyptians know Yahveh on 
that day, and they serve Him with slain-offering and meat- 

22 offering and vow vows to Yahveh and perform them. And 
Yahveh smites Egypt, smiting and healing, and when they 
turn again to Yahveh He lets Himself be entreated for them 

23 and heals them. On that day a street will run from Egypt 
to Assyria, and Assyria comes to Egypt and Egypt to 

24 Assyria, and Egypt serves along with Assyria. 2 On that day 
will Israel be the third to Egypt and to Assyria, a blessing 
in the midst of the earth, so that the Lord of hosts blesses 
it, saying : Blessed be thou, my people, Egypt I and the 
work of my hands, Assyria ! and mine inheritance, Israel ! " 

Terror at the judgment will drive Egypt to do homage to 
Yahveh. The five cities speaking the language of Canaan are 
placed by the prophet in the north-east of the land, where many 
Shemites had always been settled. The friendly Israelites also will 
be able to settle there and serve their God undisturbed, thanks 
to the reverence paid to Him. One of the five is the ancient, 
renowned Heliopolis, otherwise called fix, also D"inn "Vy, here 
modified into OV}? T'y, city of pulling down, as a sign that the 
stately sun-temples and sanctuaries there will be previously 
destroyed by the ravagers. Instead of these an altar dedicated 
to the God of Israel will stand in the centre of the land, and at 
its entrance obelisks will bear witness to Him. Monuments of 

1 These two memorials (niX refers to the altar, "|jj to the obelisk) will remind the 
Egyptians whom they are to invoke in affliction. They will not invoke Yahveh 
in vain. 

FIX cannot be taken as nota ace., since it is impossible for any subjection of 
Egypt to Assyria to be meant. V12J7 nas rather the same sense as in ver. 21. 


Yahveli's deeds will remind the Egyptians, from whom their 
plagues and deliverance came, so that in the future they may 
turn to Him under the oppression of foes. If they do this in 
penitent spirit, they will be heard by Him, just as Israel has 
been for centuries. He will send them a rescuer, saviour (JWiO), 
a deliverer of the land, 1 and so will heal the wounds He has made. 
On that day (i.e. in Isaiah's usual style : in that epoch when, as 
ver. 21 still more definitely says, not merely a great number of 
Yah veh- worshippers will dwell in Egypt, but the Egyptians 
themselves will serve Him in consequence of the revelation of the 
true God made to them), friendly intercourse will take place 
between the two great powers, which at present would devour 
each other. A nation - uniting road will invite Egypt and 
Assyria to visit each other, and one service will unite the 
rulers of the world : The service of Yahveh dwelling on Zioii. 
Thus Israel, His favourite people, comes between the two on 
equal terms. If hitherto, hemmed in between and equal to 
neither of its mighty neighbours, it had to suffer from both, 
now in virtue of its divine dignity as the central-point of 
Yahveh's revelation it will be a source of blessing on both sides. 
In fulfilment of the primeval patriarchal promises 2 it will be " a 
blessing," i.e. mediator of the divine blessing ; for its God will so 
bless it that the gifts of salvation bestowed on it will stream 
from it on the countries of the earth. This is made plain in 
the benediction put into the mouth of Yahveh, ver. 25, in 
which Egypt bears the name long since given to Israel, " my 
people," and Assyria is called affectionately " the work of my 
hands," whilst Israel, in a certain sense Yahveh's mother- 
country on earth, is called His " inheritance " as before. 

The way in which the Old Covenant puts all nations on equal 
footing before Yahveh is among its most wonderful features. 
Prophecy here gazes on the height of the New Covenant with 
uncovered face. When the prophet shows us the specific 
representatives of the world-power Egypt, Israel's hereditary 
foe, and Assyria, the chief heathen foe against whom Isaiah's 
word had to contend united alongside Israel in the service of 
Yahveh as members of a great league of peace and blessing, 

1 CDS? is to be noticed. It is not said Q'pn as if the Lord would raise up the 
deliverer from among the Egyptians themselves. 
* Gen. xii. 2 f., xxii. 18, xxvi. 4, etc. 


it would be folly to stop at the formal limits of this pro- 
gramme. When these deadly foes are reconciled to each other 
by knowledge of the true God, the whole earth has become 
the Lord's, and the goal is reached that was afterwards pro- 
claimed by angel-tongues to the world: "Glory to God in the 
highest, peace on earth, good-will towards men ! " 

Whereas chaps, xxi. and xxii. threaten single judgments on 
certain cities and lands (Babylon, Tyre, etc.), the section chaps, 
xxiv.-xxvii. forms an apocalyptic whole, in which the world- 
ju.clyment, also announced in xxviii. 22 and chap, xxxiv., 
especially in connection with the city of God presents itself under 
every aspect to the gaze of the seer. It is not by accident that 
this passage stands at the close of the single oracles of judgment 
on the nations. It forms to these, as Delitzsch says, a grand 
finale, where all the trumpets of judgment peal together, pro- 
claiming the dies irce, dies ilia of the whole world ; while at the 
same time the salvation issuing from God's kingdom even for the 
heathen under judgment is here unveiled in the most glorious 
manner. Oil account of the universal character and lofty ideal 
tenor of this prophecy its historic basis is less clearly seen than 
in the Isaianic oracles previously considered. The critics also 
refuse to ascribe this brilliant vision to the great prophet in 
whose book it is found, assigning it to the most various periods. 
We cannot follow them in such a course. Apart from the many 
formal references to Isaiah's prophecy, we hold, with Maspero, 1 
that the Assyrian invasion under Sennacherib forms the historical 
scenery to xxiv. 1 if. Those movements of the Assyrian empire 
exhibited a more comprehensive sweep than any former conflicts 
of the nations. Hence here the Day of the Lord, when He reckons 
with all, presents itself before the prophet's gaze. Certainly we 
cannot think, with Gesenius, Knobel, and the majority, that P.?0 
in this section (vers. 1, 3, 4, 5, etc.) refers to the land of Judah. 
Such a view should have been precluded by the parallel sift of 
ver. 4. Ver. 5 also refers to earth-dwellers generally, because 
they have changed the divine commands and laws, broken the 
eternal ordinances. These expressions, intentionally general, point 
to the statutes embodied in primitive tradition and hallowed by 
their age and divine origin, to which even the conscience of the 
heathen bears witness (Born. ii. 14 f.). The judgment of God 

1 Geschichte der morgtnlandischen Yolker, 1877, p. 402. 


comes on the heathen, because they have forsaken and violated 
this moral basis of their existence. Therefore not merely par- 
ticular lands are affected by the catastrophe, but all are ravaged, 
depopulated, and judged, until only a remnant of inhabitants 
exists (ver. 13). Nay, the judgment is so universal that it 
moves even the heavenly hosts to sympathy. Not merely does 
the earth reel as a drunken man, but it is said at last : 
xxiv. 21. "And it shall come to pass, on that day Yahveh 
will visit the host of the heights on high, and the kings of 

22 the earth on the ground. And the} 7 are confined, as captives 
are confined 1 in prison, and shut up in custody and visited 

23 after many days. And the moon blushes and the sun grows 
pale, for Yahveh of hosts becomes King on Mount Zion and 
in Jerusalem, and before His elders is glory." 

Thus the heavenly powers are judged like the earthly. It is 
clearly supramundane beings that are here contemplated, not, 
however, in their divine, but in their creaturely aspect. They 
form a portion of the world related to man, as the firmament with 
its stars to the earth. As creaturely beings they are not fault- 
less in God's sight (Job iv. 18). Nay, perhaps a connection 
exists between them and the sinful powers of earth ; hence they 
are judged together. Such a connection is at least apparent in 
the Book of Daniel. In the present passage, as in chap, xxxiv., 
where (ver. 4) the visible host of heaven, the stars, are meant, 
while in ver. 5a living powers also are hinted at, the emphasis lies 
simply on the fact that the whole sphere of creation is affected 
by the judgment, the highest powers being humbled and indicted 
like common criminals. After long waiting they receive their 
sentence, which is pronounced on them by the God throned in 
Zion and His glorious judicial assembly. Sun and moon lose their 
brightness in token of the divine displeasure. The opposite befalls 
the saved Church of Zion, according to xxx. 26. 

But as the storms falling on Israel in the Assyrian period, the 
first of a really world-historical character, were in our opinion the 
occasion of Isaiah's painting at full length the Day of the Lord on 
all nations in the train of Joel's hints, so at the same time the 
preserving of Zion in that tempest promised by the same prophet, 
the wonderful deliverance of the sanctuary from the flood of the 

1 We should expect HBDK to bo in the status conttr., but in the case of a verbal 
noun the object may also stand ui the accusative. 


heathen, and the honour done it by the heathen nations on this 
account, became to him the pledge of a far higher and more 
glorious preserving of the Church and unfolding of the kingdom 
of God from Zion. Chap. xxv. 4 speaks of the preserving of the 
poor people of God (cf. iv. 6), ver. 6 ff. of the unspeakably rich 
salvation to be prepared for all nations on Zion after it has out- 
lived the judgment : 

xxv. 6. "And Yahveh of hosts prepares for all nations in this 
mountain a feast of fat morsels, a feast of wines of strength, 1 
of fat morsels full of marrow, 2 of wines of strength that have 

7 been refined. And He destroys in this mountain the extended 
veil veiling all nations, 3 and the covering with which all the 

8 heathen are covered. He swallows up death for ever, and 
the Lord, Yahveh, will wipe away the tear from every coun- 
tenance, and make the shame of His people depart from the 
earth, for Yahveh has spoken it." 

The Lord prepares a joyous banquet for all nations in Zion, 
where He entertains them sumptuously. The rhythm of the sixth 
verse sounds like accompanying music. The surprise is truly 
divine. At a stroke the Lord takes away the covering that has 
too long veiled the eyes of the nations, 4 so that they knew not 
Him, their God, and saw not what belonged to their peace. 
When this veil falls, they see themselves invited to the divine 
feast in the city they had despised and abused. Although the 
covering was not without fault on their part, still their eyes being 
holden implies a certain excuse for their conduct. God will sud- 
denly and entirely remove this covering, and in consequence they 
will know Him as the author of life and grace. This is implied 
in the feast prepared by the Lord in His temple. It is a sacri- 
ficial feast (like the DwB'), at which the Lord entertains men, and 
thus expresses the fellowship into which the Lord admits them by 

?i properly dregs, here wine of dreys, i.e. wine left on the dregs to give it 
greater strength and colour. Afterwards it was filtered. 

2 DTIDE instead of DTIDO f r the sake of the rhythm ; cf. Gesenins, Gram. 
93, 3, note 3. The force of the piel (or pual) here is not privative : "deprived of 
strength," but " endowed with strength." 

3 Di;>n *3S. The word Q^jg here, as in T*^KH 'JS, applies to a broadly extend- 
ing surface, namely, that of the veil spread over the nations. The second t31;>n 
stands for \fi\ for the sake of the rhythm, Gesen. Gram. 72, 1. 

4 Cf. the similar covering over Israel, 2 Cor. iii. 15. 


His bestowal of grace. The teaching of Christ also avails itself 
in word and symbolic action of this idea of a banquet to portray 
the communication of salvation, of life through God and in God. 

Ver. 8 adds a further glorious trait. Just as energetically and 
thoroughly as He abolishes the covering of ignorance, does the 
Lord abolish death and all the sorrow condensed and culminating 
in death, everything finding expression in tears, therefore all 
sorrow and suffering. Complaining comes to an end for ever. 
Accordingly, in the time of consummation even the curse is 
abolished that burdens the entire human race, making mortality 
part of its nature (Gen. iii.). The power of sin and consequently of 
death is altogether set aside. Here again Isaiah's prophecy sees 
with certain gaze the final goal of God's dealings with humanity, 
a goal the path to which has been revealed in the New Covenant, 
but which has not been reached even yet, a fact the apostle confirms, 
citing (1 Cor. xv. 54) this passage before Hos. xiii. 14 to show 
what is still lacking to a blessed consummation. 1 Death is abolished 
(xv. 26) as the last foe, who has ruled over humanity from the 
beginning. Eev. xxi. 4 is in perfect harmony with this teaching. 

What distinguishes this prophecy is the synthesis of two views 
hitherto found apart : Judgment on the heathen, and their intro- 
duction into God's kingdom. It was intimated and prepared for 
by what was announced in detail respecting Moab (xvi.), Ethiopia 
(xviii.), and especially Egypt along with Assyria (xix.). Of the 
whole heathen world we now hear that it will be sifted by 
judgment until only a remnant is left, but that this remnant will 
be brought to reflection by judgment and healed of its blindness 
by the Lord's gracious revelation on Zion. Thus two stages of 
divine knowledge are described, corresponding to the law and the 
gospel. Every nation that has rejected the teaching of the divine 
law given to it (xxiv. 5) must first pass through the judgment so 
fearfully carried out in the world's history, before the grace of 
God is revealed to it, the invitation to the divine banquet and 
fellowship. Every nation must first attain knowledge of the 
righteous God through a certain legal discipline, before it can be 
received into full communion of salvation and spirit with the 
holy God ; cf. xxvi. 2, 9 f. 

1 Ketn-rifi o 6a.ia.Tot tif i7xs, Paul translates freely and independently, taking PIVJ 
in the Aramaic signification "victory." Cf. v. Oielli, Synortyma der Zeit n>u( 
Ewi'jkeit, p. 95 ff. 


The hymn (chap, xxvi.) pictures Zion with indestructible walls, 
to whose gates the nation of the just and upright journeys. Its 
inhabitants have again become numerous. The sufferings it has 
endured are forgotten. But one thing is still wanting to the 
Church. Death, indeed, no longer thins its ranks, xxv. 8. But it 
has thinned them ; it has swallowed up many of the faithful 
(xxvi. 14), who did not deserve the universal lot of death. 
Hence amid its devout prayer the Church confidently exclaims : 

xxvi. 19. "Thy dead ones become alive, my corpses will rise 
again ! Wake up and exult, ye that dwell in the dust ! For thy 
dew is dew of the lights, and the earth will spontaneously give 
up the shades." 

" Thy dead ones " are God's dead ones (Bottcher, Oehler), who 
sleep in Him, and for this reason may also be called by the true 
Church " my dead ones." They are not given over to destruction 
(ver. 14), for their God is a God of life. This is expressed by 
the poetic and mysterious " dew of the lights is thy dew." The 
dew is God's fertilizing gift from heaven, eliciting the riches of 
the earth. Here the quickening energy that issues from Him is 
called with special emphasis " dew of the lights," to remind of its 
heavenly origin and miraculous operation. Coming down from 
the lights of heaven, which as such are viewed in close relation 
to life, God's energy bedews the earth, so that the earth in 
consequence gives forth the shades, i.e., the souls of the departed 
which it hides. God, " the Father of lights " (Jas. i. 1 7), is also 
the giver of every good gift, and especially of life that is in 
affinity to light. God's miraculous, life-giving energy is security 
that His dead ones will rise again. 

We see that as deliverance from death is necessary to perfected 
fellowship with God (xxv. 8), so the return of those already 
swallowed up by death is necessary to the perfecting of God's 
Church. This is definitely and clearly the sense of this prophecy 
of Isaiah. Whereas in the passage of Hosea formerly considered 
(vi. 2) and Ezek. xxxvii. the resurrection can only be taken 
improperly as a quickening of the aggregate of the Church, with- 
out any rising of its buried members being thought of; here 
plainly enough the reference is to the dwellers in the dust, whom 
the earth has swallowed up, but must again restore. 1 

1 T'Bn. properly to cast, used also in other languages at least of animals. Cf. 
the kal in the corresponding sense, ver. 18. 


Looking back on Isaiah's oracles, we see that on the busi- 
given in the former prophets, from the foundation-laying in 
David's age, the building has gone vigorously on. Through the 
humbling of Israel and the judgment of the world the path will 
lead to the establishment of a divine rule, having the converted 
nation for its mother-Church, Zion for its local centre, and a unique 
scion of David's house for its personal mediator, and not merely 
subduing all nations, but also making them partakers in its 
divine blessings and saving privileges. Psalm Ixxxvii., a song of 
the children of Korah, is like an echo, issuing from the Church, 
of Isaiah's prophecy of the universal extension of God's kingdom. 
Zion is addressed in it : 
Ps. Ixxxvii. 3. " Glorious things are spoken about thee, thou 

4 city of God. ' I will name Eahab and Babylon as those who 
know me, behold, Philistia and Tyre along with Cush this 

5 one is born there.' And to Zion it will be said : ' Each 
one 1 is bom in her,' and he himself upholds her, the Most 

6 High ; Yahveh will count, when registering the nations : 

7 ' This one was born there,' while they sing as in chorus : 
' All my springs are in thee.' " 2 

According to the correct interpretation given by Delitzsch and 
Hupfeld (the latter except in ver. 7), this song sung in honour 
of Zion declares, that it will be the mother city of all nations. 
God will mention Rahab (that is, Egypt, Isa. xxx. 7) and P>abylon as 
numbered among those acquainted with him, will say of Philistia, 
Tyrus, Cush : " This one is born there," namely, in Zion, the 
residence of Yahveb. Thus " man by man," i.e. here nation by 
nation (for in ver. 4 also the nations are personified), they will 
be considered as natives of Zion. When the Lord registers His 
subjects He will enter them as springing thence. And they will 
confess exultingly that all their life-springs are in this city. 
The ever-recurring " This one was born there " intimates that 
the nations will not only receive citizenship there as belonging 
to Zion, but that they will receive there a new existence, experi- 

1 Cf. Esth. L 8. . 

* D^H from ^n, thus part. p'd. for D^TO- In rj,Q the pointing is not 
to be changed, as Hnpfeld supposes : *J'yQ (or *yyt2, my indicellers), by which he 
obtains the meaning : "All that dwell in thee sing and spring.'* For this ;;'; 
must have been used. According to the usual reading, the main thought recurs at 
the close with much more emphasis, and, indeed, now as a thankful confession. 


ence a new birth. The divine springs flowing in the city (ver. 7) 
impart to them a new life (cf. Isa. xii. 3), so that henceforth 
with joy they ascribe their origin to the place whence they have 
received salvation. 

33. Micah, Nahum. 

Another Jewish prophet, Micali the Morasthite, was at work, 
contemporaneously to some extent with Isaiah (note A). 

As Isaiah foretold the judgment of exile and devastation on 
Judah-Jerusalem in the most definite terms, so his younger 
contemporary Micah still more definitely predicted the desolation 
of Zion with its temple, iii. 12; cf. iv. 1 0. But are the great 
outlooks opened in prophecy before this place to be regarded on 
this account as wishes, pious indeed, but far too bold ? On the 
contrary, Micah makes the boldest oracle of Isaiah follow directly 
on the unmistakable sentence of punishment just mentioned, in 
token that he was not merely, like that great prophet, a servant 
of a higher Lord, but that the path to the exalting and glorifying 
of the temple lay right through the destruction foretold. 1 

Like Isaiah, but in greater detail, he adds an exhortation to 
his people to walk in the name, i.e. in the light of the revelation, 
of its God. Then its captives and its dominion will return in 
due time. 

Micah iv. 6. " On that day, saith the Lord, I will gather that 
which limps, 2 and that which is cast out I will collect, and 

7 that which I treated ill. And I make that which limps a 
remnant, and that which is far removed 3 a great nation, and 
Yahveh will be king over them, on Mount Zion henceforth 

8 and for ever; and thou, tower of flocks, hill of the 
daughter of Zion, to thee will it come, 4 and the former 

1 This judgment is represented (i. 3 ff.) as a descent of God from heaven, a 
parousia analogous to the one at Sinai, to which appearance also the prophetic 
picture of Hab. iii. 3 ff. (besides Judg. v. 4 f. ; Ps. xviii. 9 ff. ) alludes. 

2 That which limps, is cast out, etc., stands collectively, not of a single sheep. 

* nfc^n-jn, peculiar niphal formation from K/TI (Amos v. 27) : that which in 
thrown far away ; thus the nrn3H above recurs in a stronger form. 

4 From the accentuation (athnach with nOND) it has been erroneously inferred 
that |VS~ri3 is the subject of this verb. This is rather found in the second half of 
the verse. Luther : "Thy golden rose shall come," thinking of ^iy, ornaments. 



sovereignty will come, the kingdom to the daughter of 

Zion." 1 

" On that day " points with emphasis to the epoch described in 
ver. 1 as the end of the days. In this indication of time lies the 
difference between a divine oracle and the otherwise similar talk 
of false prophets, ii. 1 1 f. 2 What carnal hope expects prematurely 
comes only, according to God's word, at the end after purifying 
judgment. The human heart is always inclined to forestall the 
glorifying and ignore the judgment of the world. Also the 
" henceforth " (^Vp at the end of ver. *7) refers, of course, not 
to the present, but to that time contemplated prophetically 

With ver. 8, as with v. 2, a new paragraph begins. If iv. 1 ff. 
referred to Zion as the seat of the temple, ver. 8 f. contemplates 
David's citadel on Zion, the Davidic rule (v. 2 ff.), and again still 
more distinctively the true Davidite. The Tower of flocks here 
is the local representative of the Davidic sovereignty, and belonged 
presumably to David's stronghold on Zion. " Hill " of the 
daughter of Zion is perhaps added to distinguish it from other 
towers of this name. 3 Moreover, this ?B'y was a conventional 
proper -name of a particular height on Zion (probably on the 
south-east edge). This royal residence will again behold the 
former glory of David and Solomon, of course not in the imme- 
diate future. On the contrary there await it, as vers. 9 ff. 
describe, pure anguish and pain, beleaguerment, deportation to 
Babylon, profound humiliation of the ruling house. But these 
are the pains of a travailing woman, and so not without fruit. 
Out of all these sufferings the future glory will grow, such as is 
shown in v. 2 to ver. 5a in a more definite and personal Messianic 
v. 2. " And thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, 4 small to be counted 

1 Not : upon the daughter of Jerusalem (Hitzig, after Num. xxii. 4), but accord- 
ing to Zech. ix. 9, which the passage resembles, 7 here indicates direction. 

* Like Hofmann, Kleinert, ft al., we believe, in opposition to most expositors, that 
ii. 11 f. describes how the false prophets, audaciously copying oracles like Hos. i. 11 ff., 
promise speedy victory to the people. On the other hand, Hitzig would put ii. 11 f. 
after iv. 8. 

3 Gen. xxxv. 21. 

* mEK> " fruitfulness, fruit-field," agrees with the appellation Qfi? JV2> house 
of bread, as well as with the fertile situation of the village in barren surroundings 
(v. Orelli, Durch's hei'ige Land, 2nd ed. p. 154). The fonns Ephrath and Ephratah 


(note B) among the country - towns of Judah, out of thee 
comes forth to me l he who is to be a ruler in Israel. And 
his goings forth are from the foretime, from days immemorial. 

3 On this account he gives them up until the time when she 
that travaileth has brought forth, then will the remnant of his 

4 brethren return to the sons of Israel. And he stands and 
pastures in the might of Yahveh, in the majesty of the name 
of Yahveh, his God, and they have rest, for now 2 will he be 

5 great unto the ends of the earth. And he shall be PEACE." 
The nrisi, v. 2, corresponds to the nriNi o iv. 8. Alongside the 

Tower of Flocks, the proof of Davidic glory, appears the place of 
Davidic lowliness, that had seen a shepherd's son rise to a throne. 
For a Son of Jesse will again traverse the path from obscure 
lowliness to lofty glory. Out of Bethlehem, with scarcely the 
rank of a country-town, will come forth One whose name is here 
mysteriously suppressed, only the dignity that awaits him being 
mentioned. He it is who is destined in God's plan to be ruler 
in Israel. The name of the entire people, whom, like David, 
lie is to unite under his sceptre, is intentionally used. Moreover, 
the next mysterious feature forms a significant contrast to the 
obscure birthplace of the Messiah : " His going forth from the gray 
foretime, from days immemorial." Does this only mean that His 
extraction is. traceable to the earliest age, that He is thus of good 
race, as in fact (Ruth iv. 11 ff.) David's ancestors are traced back 
to Perez, son of Judah ? Although it must be conceded that o?W 
in poetico-prophetic discourse has not always an unlimited range 
(cf. Amos ix. 11), it would yield here a very tame sense, especially 
to the Hebrew, to think only of physical descent from Jesse the 
humble ancestor, or from Judah. The descent of every genuine 
Israelite even from Jacob-Abraham was understood as matter of 
course. Or does this weighty description, containing a twofold, 
far-reaching definition of time, teach the pre-temporal existence 
of the Messiah, so that we should have here, as in John i. 1 ff., 
viii. 58, an irrefutable testimony to Christ's pre-existence ? The 

are found Gen. xlviii. 7 ; cf. xxxv. 19. But there the n indicates direction. On 


the other hand, in the present passage the second, more solemn form stands 
absolutely, as in Ruth iv. 11. 

1 The saying : "will come forth to me," implies that he comes to fulfil a divine plan. 

2 The reference to Ps. ii. 7, Ixxii. 7, here is beyond doubt. What in tbat passage 
was still ideal has now become reality. 


expressions D"ip, afiy, and the general conceptions of the Israelites, 
are too little metaphysical to warrant such an inference. Moreover, 
strictly speaking, a premundane existence is not affirmed, but a 
coming from time immemorial. In Micah vii. 20, Dip is used in 
reference to the patriarchal promises. We therefore do most 
justice to the statement by taking it to mean that the future ruler 
from Bethlehem is he who has long been in God's view in the 
development of things. Because from the beginning of redemption 
everything tended to him, he was in course of coming from the 
beginning. His beginnings are rooted in God's primeval redeem- 
ing plan. The prophet is thinking not merely of pedigrees of 
genealogy, but just as much of those of prophecy. We agree 
with Hofmann when he remarks : " The ruler who at last will 
come forth from Bethlehem proceeds and is in course of coming 
from times of inconceivable length. For since it is he who is 
the goal of the history of humanity, of Israel, of the Davidic house, 
all advances in that history are beginnings of His coming, goings 
forth of the second son of Jesse." That our prophet usually takes 
into view the whole history of God's redemption and kingdom 
back to the early period of preparation of which Genesis treats, 
is shown, for example, in v. 6 ; cf. iv. 1 0. The fulfilment, indeed, 
has carried still farther this coming from of old, this going forth 
from the beginnings of history, disclosing the supramundane and 
premundane origin of the Messiah beyond primeval history, and 
in this way discovering the profoundest reason of the fact that 
the whole history of creation tends towards Him. 

To the features literally realized in the fulfilment belongs also 
the rise of the Messiah out of Bethlehem, a fact which Matthew 
emphasizes with perfect right (ii. 6). This is not the place to 
discuss the credibility of the account of the birth of Jesus in 
David's city. On the other hand, we must differ from Hitzig when 
he denies that the prophet thought that the Messiah would be 
born in Bethlehem. The prophet sees the glorious Prince of Peace 
issuing, not out of David's stronghold on Zion, but out of the 
obscure shepherd-town, from which the first David was called by 
God to the throne. And we have no right to convert this vivid 
intuition into an abstract thought, as if such a thought were the 
prius to the seer, and the concrete form in his consciousness a mere 
dress. The fact that he did not see the thought of the supreme 
ruler's ascent from the obscurest lowliness otherwise than in and 


with the local form in which it was realized, is a proof, to those 
who do not ascribe everything to the arbitrary fetish of chance, of 
the express control of God. 

Therefore, ver. 3 proceeds, because the coming of the true 
ruler over Israel is still future, the casting away of this people 
can only be temporary, continuing up to the definite point of 
time when its grievous sufferings issue in a blissful birth. 
According to the connection with vers. 2 and 4, he who is born to 
bring the suffering to an end can only be the ruler from Bethlehem. 
But who is the travailing mother ? Since iv. 9 f. speaks of the 
pains of Zion, and in v. 3 even the dispersed Israelites are called 
the brethren of the Messiah (to whom the suffix in vns points 
back), it is intimated that the Church, at present in grievous 
affliction and expecting still more grievous, is to be regarded as 
his mother ; and with this Hos. xiii. 13 and Isa. vii. 14, according 
to our interpretation, agree. 1 

The fact that then even the remnant found among the heathen 
returns, shows how what is said in iv. 6 f. is brought about by the 
Messiah, whose rule is further described in v. 4 : Divine power 
and gentleness are united in Him. " He stands and pastures in 
the power of Yahveh, in the majesty of the name of Yahveh." 
The expression " He pastures," without the addition given to it in 
Ps. ii. (5J"|3 E2>2), is uncommonly peaceful in sound. He will be 
altogether a shepherd, a prince from Bethlehem, even as His 
ancestor grew up amid the flock. Yet He is strong and beautiful 
with the divine glory, the majesty of the name of Yahveh. Thus 
in Him the Lord reveals Himself in His essence. Then will His 
people " be settled," enjoy rest ; for His greatness is then acknow- 
ledged over the whole earth ; cf. Ps. ii. 8, what David there says 
virtually of himself will be realized in the Messiah ; only that in 
the present passage the peaceful side of His rule, there the 
terrible side towards rebellious princes and nations, comes into 

It is said, in the last place : And He shall be peace. This puts 
the seal on the description of the Son of David. He is peace, i.e. 
peace is concluded in Him, so that not only does His coming 
bring peace on earth, but His whole being is peaceful, and works 
peace. He is thus the means by which that pacification of the 
world is effected which was spoken of in iv. 3 ff. as a divine 

1 So after Calvin many moderns, like Kleinert. 


work. Such a word as Ci'E' is capable of unlimited intensifica- 
tion, and has found it in the Bible. Only the completed revela- 
tion has disclosed all its depths of meaning. In the Hebrew 
language ci^t? was an everyday word, a common greeting, a trivial 
wish. It denoted whatever any one desired for himself and 
wished for any one with whom he was on good terms : freedom 
from harm and disturbance, peace, rest, wellbeing. Among the 
peace-loving Orientals peace was and is, in the profane sphere of 
thought, the highest good. And in the religious life the sum of 
salvation may be comprised in it. When prophecy promises 
peace in the time of consummation, and calls the Messiah Peace 
absolutely, it means peace in inner and outer perfection, man 
being completely at one with God, and men having become through 
His revelation one with each other. This will be the Messiah's 
gift. Such peace, in fact, the Prince of Peace from Bethlehem 
brought to the world, only far more gloriously than human heart 
could conceive under the Old Covenant. And in the sense in 
which He established peace, it is also the highest good to the 
Christian. Hence everything we have in Christ may be summed 
up in the word borrowed by the apostle from our prophet : auro? 
fo-riv 77 elprjvrj 77/4001; (Eph. ii. 14). 

Even in this prophet, who so strongly emphasizes the peaceful 
character of God's kingdom, there is not wanting at the same time 
a warlike picture of the superiority which the Messianic Zion 
will display among the nations. Already in iv. 11 ff. Micah 
foretells the judgment of the nations : According to the Lord's 
plan (Joel iii. 1 ff.), the heathen will assemble against Jerusalem 
to desecrate the holy city, but will be gathered there like sheaves 
on the threshing-floor to be threshed. 1 

iv. 13. "Arise and thresh, daughter of Zion; I will make thy 
horn iron and thy hoofs brass, that thou mayest crush to pieces 
many nations ; and I consecrate their spoil to Yahveh, and their 
property to the Lord of all the earth." 

A type of this final catastrophe to the heathen was given 
in the fall of the Assyrian army before Jerusalem. Also in 
v. 5 ff., where in a similar way the victorious might of God's 
people is seen by Micah, it is the Assyrian, the mighty world- 
conqueror, who first passes before him. Seven, nay, eight victo- 
rious princes will encounter him, and they will waste his land 

1 Cf. the harvest figure, Joel iii. 9 ff. 


with the sword. The power of feeble Israel will thus be seven- 
fold superior. 1 And in v. 8, 9 f. again the double aspect of God's 
kingdom conies out, its human form, the Israelitish Church, being- 
compared, on the one hand, to the fruitful dew, and on the other, 
to the most terrible beast of prey. Under both aspects the world 
of nations will come to know the people of God. 
v. 7. " And the remnant of Jacob shall be amid many nations as 

the dew from Yahveh, as dropping rain on the grass, that 
8 waits for uo one, and tarries not for children of men. 2 And 

the remnant of Jacob shall be amid many nations as a lion 

among the forest beasts, as a lion among the flocks of sheep," 


The first of these figures, viz. the dew, suggests not merely the 
idea of countless numbers, but also, as in the second figure, the 
effect produced (which certainly here is exceedingly beneficent), 
and at the same time the idea of higher origin. As the dew falls 
from heaven without being dependent on any man, so God's 
people comes on the world as a blessing of unworldly origin, and 
also with the irresistible power peculiar to the kingly lion above 
all beasts. If a sufficient corrective to the carnal and sensuous 
view of vers. 8 and 9 were not contained in iv. 1 ff., v. 2 ff., it 
would be found immediately in ver. 10, where, as we found in 
Zech. ix. 10, the setting aside of martial power is foretold (pp. 245, 
247). Even the strong cities, in which false confidence had hitherto 
been placed, will vanish, for the Lord Himself will be the bulwark 
of His people (Zech. ix. 8). But before that time comes (vii. 11) 
Jerusalem must undergo judgment ; and before the nations draw 
near to do homage to the Lord mighty judgments will fall 
upon them, vii. 12 ff., such as befell Egypt, so that trembling 
with terror and dumb with shame (vers. 16, 17), they will at 
last come to do reverence to the true God. Thus here also, as in 
Isaiah, the path of Israel, as of the heathen world, lies through 
judgment to salvation and peace. 

The oracle of Nahum the Elkoshite takes us to the close of 
the Assyrian period. It also was spoken under King Hezekiah, 

1 The number seven is again transcended, after the manner of oracles of number 
(Amos ii. 1, etc.), by eight. 

2 This is not to be inverted, as if it meant : " For which no one waits," as though 
the unexpected, unhoped-for coming of the dew were meant ; but: " The coming of 
.the dew is dependent on no man," whereas conversely the children of men are very 
dependent on its coming and await it with anxiety. 


luit after Sennacherib's departure; in any case, before the fall of 
Nineveh, against which it is directed. Still, filled with indigna- 
tion at all the outrage the Assyrians had inflicted on the land, 
the prophet foretells, in the name of the God who is jealous for 
His inheritance, the approaching overthrow of the imperial city. 
The obverse of this judgment is comfort for God's people, who 
hitherto could not keep their feasts without trembling before the 
overwhelming foe. Hence the good news of its fall is heard in 
Jerusalem with rapture. This evangel is indeed chiefly negative, 
banishing anxiety and solicitude in presence of the world-power. 
Paul has applied the oracle, Nah. ii. 1, to a far more positive 
message of peace. But see also Isa. lii. 7. 

NOTE A. According to the heading, Micah's work likewise 
belongs to the time of Kings Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah. The. 
latter date is confirmed by Jer. xxvi. 18; for when Jeremiah 
was accused of high treason in foretelling the fall of Jerusalem and 
the temple, the elders defended him by appealing to Micah's 
example, who, under Hezekiah, had done the same without molesta- 
tion. There Micah iii. 12 is plainly alluded to ; but to make the 
passage in Jeremiah a strict proof that the discourse of Micah iii. 
was composed under Hezekiah is to attribute too great critical value, 
to it. In any case Micah spoke in great part before the fall of 
Samaria (cf. especially chap. i.). But after a long term of labour 
he put his oracles together in book form, so that they read like a 
work struck off' at one blow (especially chaps, ii.-v.). 

In Micah \ve find (iv. 1-4) almost literally the same oracle of 
the exalting of Mount Zion and the peaceful pilgrimage of the 
nations thither, that we read in Isa. ii. 2 ff. Only, at the end Micah 
has an addition (ver. 4) : " And they shall sit, every one under 
his vine and his fig-tree, none frightening them ; for the mouth of 
Yahveh of hosts has spoken it." 

This second form of the oracle is held by many to be the original 
one (Hitzig, Caspari, Keil, etc.). They appeal especially to the 
fact that the oracle is not disconnected from the context as in Isaiah. 
This would imply that Micah spoke under Jotham, and Isaiah 
borrowed from him (Caspari, 1 Keil). This, however, having little 
probability, since the historical horizon in the context of Micah is 
that of the latest prophecies of Isaiah* (e.g. xxxix. 6 f.), others sup- 
pose that the oracle springs from an earlier prophet (Hitzig, Ewald : 
Joel), and was reproduced by Isaiah and afterwards by Micah (by 
the latter more faithfully). This hypothesis deserves notice, but 

1 C. P. Caspari, Ueber Micha den Morasthiten und seine prophetische Schrift, 1851. 
* Cf. also Jer. xxvi. 18 ("in the days of Hezt-kiah") with Micah iii. 12. 


is neither capable of proof nor necessary to explain the facts. That 
Micah repeats an oracle already given, he perhaps intimates in 
the sentence : " For the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it." But 
he has rounded off the oracle and woven it into his book with 
most beautiful antithesis. On the other hand, there seems to us 
no cogent reason for refusing to assign it to Isaiah, who sets it 
before us abruptly in the manner of a divine vision suddenly 
received. 1 

NOTE B. vjre, masc., referring to JV3, is usually taken as predi- 
cate ; but then we should expect nrix -vyx and a copula before IEO. 
It is rather in apposition to the apostrophe, so that the sentence 
proper only begins with ^QO. Hitzig requires the article "Vyjn, and 
takes over the n from nrnss. But nrr6 does not rightly suit such 
determination of the adjective. Nor is the article necessary in 
such a qualitative apposition. For the rest, it is not said nvnrp : 
too small to l>e able. Bethlehem was really the centre of an fpN, 
the seat of an *H?x, country prince (Zech. ix. 7, xii. 5 f.), but small 
even for this subordinate position, as we say : small for a 
kingdom. Matthew cites (ii. 6), with some deviation from the 
LXX. : xai <r<) B?)$?.,. yj 'loiJ^a &u3,'z&)g eXa^larri s7 tv 7oT; fiyspoffiv 
'loiiBa, ex eov yap t%i/.svffsrai, which is not essentially different from 
the original text. 

1 B. Stade (Zeitschr. fur A. T. Wft. 1881, i. p. 161 ff.) would also assign the 
grand oracles, Micah iv. 1-4, 11-14, v. 2-4, 7-15, to a post-exilian "epigon," and affirms 
that hereafter Micah of Moresheth, Isaiah's contemporary, has no role to play in the 
history of the Messianic idea ! No wonder if by such epigon-like abuse of the most 
venerable writings even lawful criticism falls into discredit. 



34. Zeplianidh. 

T^HE prophets who come next, of whom Jeremiah is chief, 
differ in a marked way from those considered in the last 
section, of whom Isaiah is the chief representative. If the latter 
sketched a brilliant picture of the ruler growing up from Jesse's 
root, now that picture, as well as the figure of Jerusalem pre- 
served and glorified, retires again into the background. Scarcely 
any room is left for language of promise, since even Judah, to 
which comfort might still be offered in the Assyrian period, is 
now advancing rapidly to the Chaldaean judgment, and the 
prophets themselves are forced to deny it all hope for the 
nearer future. Yet the age gives all the more occasion for a 
new proclaiming of the world-judgment. The Day of the Lord 
is pictured. And in the same way confident hopes of a glorious 
end are afresh promised to the remnant of Judah, and the narrow 
way of repentance and humble trust is pointed out to it. The 
conception of the city of God is spiritualized and refined in the 
fires of judgment. 

ZepJianiak, whose tractate, according to the unimpeachable 
heading, belongs to the period of Josiah (note A), is among the 
most eloquent heralds who announce the Day of the Lord as the 
day of general reckoning, such as Joel already more precisely 
described. But Zephaniah emphasizes far more strongly than 
Joel the universality of the judgment, foretelling the conversion 
of the nations as its salutary fruit. In this twofold respect lie 
has a place beside Isaiah, whose oracles 1 he to some extent 

1 So especially the oracles discussed in 32, Isa. xiii., xxiv. -xxvii., also 
chap, xxxiv. 



guards against the criticism of to-day, not merely by points of 
contact in words, but by coincidence in the main thoughts, 
which are thus shown to be the fruit of the Assyrian period. 

Zephaniah forms a transition from the Assyrian to the 
Chaldsean period, still like Nahum threatening Nineveh (ii. 13 ff.), 
(which consequently has not yet succumbed to the Chaldseans), 
but having new foes in view and no longer able to promise 
Jerusalem gracious preservation. As on the appearance of this 
prophet everything within the land lies in the wicked one. so 
also near movements announce themselves to the prophet's gaze 
in the world of nations, movements going beyond ordinary limits 
and preparing for a general divine judgment. It has been rightly 
remarked that about this time the Scythians were moving from 
the north through Hither-Asia towards Egypt. 1 These northern 
barbarians, grazing the borders of Palestine, made a deep impres- 
sion on the Israelites, as we see from Jeremiah, and especially 
from Ezekiel's description of " Gog from the land of Magog," 
taken line by line from those hordes. The Scythians treated the 
Philistine country at that time with special harshness. The rapid 
fulfilment in this way of Zephaniah's threats against these cities 
may have founded or greatly enhanced his reputation. But he has 
far more comprehensive events in view. He begins his oracles 
at once with the saying (i. 2 f.) : 

" I will carry away, sweep away 2 everything from the surface 
of the earth is the oracle of the Lord ; will carry away man 
and beast, carry away the birds of the heaven and the fish of 
the sea, the ruins 3 along with the evil-doers, and exterminate the 
men from the surface of the earth ! is the oracle of the Lord." 

^3 stands first with emphasis : " Everything," more fully 
illustrated by the following words, where man (just as universal) 
comes first as the real sinner, on whose account judgment goes 
forth on every earthly creature. To him, as the chief object in 
view, ver. 3 recurs. But it is especially surprising that ver. 4 

1 Herodotus, i. 103 ff. 

3 With S]pN (hiph. from P)}D) is joined the infin. abs. tJDS, akin in sense and 
derivation, for the sake of the fuller rhythm. Just so Jer. viii. 13. Butteher, 
Amf. Lehrbuch, 988, 1. 

3 ni^Cbsn, not synonymous with /53B, <r*avSXav, in which case it would have 
applied to the idols, but according to Isa. iii. 6 : tottering ruins. All dwellings are 
mere tumbling ruins, which God easily sweeps away along with those dwelling in 


turns specifically against Jerusalem, which is therefore not spared, 
on the contrary is first smitten by the judgment, and that without 
exception. Both those who practise heathen worship (Baal- 
worship, star - worship, etc.) without shame, and those who 
carry the holy name of Yahveh on their lips, fall a prey to 
judgment. Consequently, alongside the dwellers of the city 
engaged in heathen practices without disguise, there were those 
who at least maintained the name and ritual system of the 
Old Covenant-God, thus securing for themselves some good. 
But between the two parties, who in appearance differed to some 
extent from each other, the prophet can scarcely make a difference. 
His words show that God cannot be bribed by such partisanship 
in His cause, and the genuine prophet has to announce the 
judgment with equal severity to all parties, even to those who 
would fain stand well with the true God, if the service of God 
and the life of true holiness are wanting. 

Already the Judge approaches, before whom the whole world 
must be dumb with reverence : 

i. 7. " Be still before Yahveh, Lord of all ! For the day of 
Yahveh is near ! For Yahveh has prepared a slam-sacrifice, has 
hallowed His invited ones." 

This passage, alluding to Isa, xiii. 3, speaks of the judgment- 
day as a sacrificial feast, where blood will flow copiously. The 
sacrifice is already prepared ; the invited guests are ready, or as 
it is said in sacrificial language, hallowed. These guests are the 
wild foes whom the Lord will summon against His people. The 
people are the sacrifice to be slain, as the following verses show, 
where in particular the princes dressed in friendly garb (ver. 8), 
the priests acting like heathen (ver. 9), the unbelieving and 
thoroughly materialistic triflers (ver. 12) are censured, while 
everywhere the population of Jerusalem is thought of. The 
capture of the city is described with a picturesqueness (ver. 10 f.) 
which, as Jerome early notices, vividly recalls the actual fate of 
the city (A.D. 70) as depicted more at length (than the Chaldean 
catastrophe) by Josephus. The description of the judgment- 
day, i. 14 ff., is based on Joel ii. 1 f . ; Amos v. 18, 20. It 
smites the whole earth, as the close of the chapter again 

Humility, penitent submission to God alone can save from the 
universal judgment. 


ii. .1. " Press and crouch together, 1 people, that despairs 

2 of nothing, before what is decreed comes to the birth 
time flies past like chaff before the burning wrath of 
Yahveh comes upon you, before the day of Yahveh's wrath 

3 comes upon you. Seek the Lord, all ye humble of the earth, 
who have done His law, seek after righteousness, seek after 
humility; perhaps ye shall be hid in the day of Yahveh's 

The judgment is a thing already settled, needing only to come 
to light (to be born). Hence " the nation of the insolent" 2 should 
know better than to behave arrogantly. The time before the 
execution of the judgment flies as rapidly as the chaff before the 
wind. And only the modest, the humble before God, who have 
submitted obediently to God's commands, can then hope to be 
spared. Thus the nation of the " humble of the earth " (ver. 3) 
is opposed to the hardened nation of the insolent (ver. 1). Both 
designations apply to men, inhabitants of the earth according to 
their disposition, without regard to race ; thus they include Jews 
and heathen. 3 For even of the latter it may be said, that they 
know God's law and do or neglect it. Here, too, Zephaniah is 
in accord with Isa. xxiv. 5 (p. 299). But it is significant that 
even those (whether Jews or heathen) who have been diligent in 
observing God's elementary precepts must first inquire after 
righteousness which God will accept on that day, and especially 
seek the true humility that is alone susceptible to grace. The 
judgment will terribly punish the arrogance of the world, in 
particular of the heathen world, that is antagonistic to God's 
people ; and in consequence the worship of Yahveh will extend 
over the whole earth : 

ii. 11. "Yahveh makes Himself terrible upon them; for He 
makes all the gods of the earth vanish, and they pray to Him, 
every one from his place, all the isles of the heathen." 

1 K'C'p i verbum denom. from jj>p, to gather stubble ; hence the rendering " to 
assemble." But it is stronger : press, stoop together. Instead of spreading out as 
now, they are to "crouch together," since the judgment rushes over all, infallibly 
striking all who stretch out their neck. 

2 In lijn the insolence of the people is hinted, and still more in the phrase : "that 
loses not heart," i.e. is not terrified in any of its evil acts. The nation of the 
insolent dwelling on the earth are meant, not a national people, as Judah. 

3 Otherwise Hitzig : " Pious of the land." But the prophet speaks here universally 
as in i. 2, 18, and then at once goes on to speak to the surrounding lands. 


In Isaiah first we found l the paedagogic significance of the 
general judgment for the heathen to be a leading thought of pro- 
phecy, especially in Isa. xxiv.-xxvii., on which visions Zephaniah 
plainly builds. The latter, looking to the west, first names the 
" isles of the heathen " as an immeasurable territory which, 
though at present sunk in idolatry, will do homage to Israel's 
God. The isles and coasts of the Mediterranean are meant (cf. 
Isa. xxiv. 15). The world was conceived as projecting without 
limit into the ocean in this direction. The fact of the " isles " 
playing so prominent a part here, and again in Deutero-Isaiah, 
(they occasionally represent the less known heathen world), 
seems like a presentiment of the truth, that the moral 
centre of the heathen world is found in the nations of the 
west dwelling round the Mediterranean (cf. Num. xxiv. 24). 
But it is especially noteworthy that Zephaniah affirms of these 
island-dwellers that they will pray to Yahveh " every one from 
his place," a statement by no means, with Keil and Kleinert, to 
be supplemented to the effect that they will resort to Yahveh's 
temple in Jerusalem for worship, but hinting at most that in 
their prayer they will look from their place toward Jerusalem. 
The emphasis lies just on the fact that in their place, where they 
are at home, they will pay adoring homage to the Lord. We 
have here a notable effort to break through the localized concep- 
tion of God's kingdom. This view, indeed, is so far from being 
in essential contradiction to the pilgrimage of the nations to 
Zion, Micah iv. 1 ff., that on the contrary the same Zephaniah 
also in spirit sees that pilgrimage, iii. 10, since according to him 
the farthest nations bring meat-offerings to Jerusalem ; 2 but a 
weighty supplement to the thought, that everything must bring 
tribute to the God dwelling on Zion, is given in this glimpse 
of the farthest heathen praying reverently to Yahveh in 
their yet scarcely discovered lands (ii. 11). In Isaiah also we 
found such a hint of the latter view, to the effect that in the 
heathen lands themselves the name of the true God will be 
invoked, xix. 19 ff, alongside the pilgrimage of the nations, 
Isa. ii. 2 ff. The latter therefore is simply a way of contemplat- 

1 Pp. 295, 302. 

2 Even the Israelite prayed everywhere to Yahveh, which did not preclude his 
bringing offerings to Jerusalem. The idea of the altar, Isa. xix. 19, more clearly 
transcends the ordinary views, just so Mai. i. 11. 


ing something that points beyond this figure. But this expres- 
sive figure was suited to the existing power of apprehension, and 
the defect inherent in it is only gradually remedied by such com- 
plementary revelations. After the exile the great thought, 
dawning in the present passage as in Isaiah, is still more definitely 
expressed, MaL i. 11 ; but it is only to be read in perfect clear- 
ness in John iv. 23, and that from the lips of Him who most 
emphatically declared that salvation is of the Jews (iv. 22), thus 
fully acknowledging the necessity for all nations to journey to 
Zion, where alone salvation is to be found. This salva- 
tion, indeed, will not remain bound to the place, but to the person 
of Him in whom every promise belonging to Zion is verified. 
Through Him it was revealed that the kingdom of God on 
earth will be universal, while retaining a historical, personal 

Zeph. iii. explains more fully how through the general judg- 
ment the world will become God's kingdom, and Jerusalem God's 
city. The accusation in iii. 1 ff. is specially directed against 
Jerusalem, whose princes and judges are ravenous beasts, its 
prophets windbags and buffoons, its priests guilty of sacrilege ; 
whereas the Lord is clearly and truly revealed in its midst 
by His word, and mightily revealed among the heathen nations 
around by His judgments. Because Jerusalem refuses chastening, 
the judgment long threatened and hitherto held back by God's 
long-suffering must actually come, ver. 7. Since it is no better 
than the heathen, it will not be spared from the universal judg- 
ment (ver. 8). But that judgment will turn all the nations into 
the Church of God ; it is only a means to a blessed end. 
iii. 8. " Therefore wait ye for me, saith the Lord, on the day 
when I rise up to testify. 1 For my decree is to gather 
nations, to sweep together kingdoms, to pour out on them 
my wrath, all my fierce anger ; for in the fire of my zeal the 
9 whole earth shall be consumed. For then will I turn on the 
nations purified lips, that they may all call on the name of 
10 Yahveh, serve Him with one neck. From beyond the rivers 

1 ~\yb, the reading according to the LXX., Syr. According to the llasora, followed 
by Keil, Kleinert, the reading is *}j^5, which would have to be rendered : to the spoil. 
But according to the following words the matter in hand is a judicial act, in which 
Yah vth is both witness and judge, and His " sentence " also intimates the mode of 


of Ethiopia my worshippers, the Church of my scattered ones, 
bring my offerings." 

The judgment of the nations has here a direct missionary aim : 
to purify the language (properly the lip) of the nations, hitherto 
defiled by the names of strange gods. Henceforth they shall all 
invoke the name of the true God and serve Him together. Their 
yoke being the same, it is said, they will bear it with one 
shoulder ; an intimate brotherhood of the nations is the natural 
consequence of their serving one Lord and God. The prophet 
here turns his gaze to the farthest south. Even in the mysterious 
land of the sources of the Nile, south of Ethiopia, Yahveh will 
have His worshippers, a diaspora of worshippers, who, to testify 
that they belong to Him, bring gifts to Jerusalem, for this is the 
goal of their homage. The passage alludes to Isa. xviii. 7 (p. 296), 
and speaks like that passage of the worshipping of Yahveh by 
the heathen, who in these remotest zones will form a daughter 
of scattered ones, i.e. a widely scattered Church. 

Vers. 11-13 turn to the mother-Church at Jerusalem, which 
has also undergone a purifying. 

iii. 11. " On that day thou shalt no longer need to be ashamed 
for all the transgressions thou hast sinned against me, for then 
will I sweep away from thy midst thy arrogant revellers, 
and thou shalt no longer be haughty on my holy mountain, 

12 And I leave in thee a people humble and little, and they 

13 hide themselves in the name of Yahveh. Those left of Israel 
shall do no wickedness and speak no lies, and in their mouth 
no tongue of deceit is found. For they shall graze and lie 
down, none making them afraid." 

In the happy state of those preserved from the judgment the 
sense of guilt, that brings shame and pain, ceases (Isa. xxxiii. 24). 
Accumulated sin is forgiven ; and by removing the proud the 
Lord has taken care that His Church shall not sin again, and 
especially shall not again draw down His judgment upon them 
by their haughtiness and arrogance. Only one Church is left, in 
the world's eyes mean and poor, which puts its confidence not 
in fleshly power and earthly greatness or worldly wealth, but in 
God's great revealed name, and therefore has peace with God 
and man. They lead a peaceful, harmless shepherd-life, really 
the flock of the Good Shepherd, which no foe dare touch. As 
it was said of these poor and humble ones in Isa. xxix. 19 


(p. 291), that their joy and exulting is in God, so the prophet 
continues : 

iii. 1 4. " Exult, Daughter of Zion, shout, Israel ! Rejoice 
and be glad with all thy heart, Daughter of Jerusalem ! 

15 Yahveh has removed thy judgments, cleared away thy foe. 
As King of Israel Yahveh is in thy midst : fear no more 

1 6 evil ! On that day they call Jerusalem : ' Fear not,' 

1 7 Zion : ' Let not thy hands be slack.' l F Yahveh, thy God, 
is in thy midst, a Hero who is a Saviour. He rejoices in 
thee with delight, is silent in His love, He exults over 
thee with shouting ! " 

The holy joy of the city of God is for the grace bestowed on 
it, because its sins are cancelled, and consequently its foes have 
no cause of revenge ; while its God, the true King of Israel, can 
and will dwell in it without offence. 2 Then will the Church be 
fearless and full of energy (ver. 16). But its bliss culminates 
in the fact that God is able to feel unalloyed pleasure in His 
people, nay, an unshared joy, peculiar to Himself. 3 This relation 
of cordial goodwill formed between the mighty, holy God and His 
poor Church of the last days recalls Hosea. The Lord also has 
His heart's delight in it, He is silent in His love, the latter a 
deep touch, not merely meaning that God does not chide, as He 
had hitherto been compelled to do, although it were a great thing 
for God's accusing voice to be no longer heard, but pointing to 
the most intimate fellowship of spirit, such as cannot be put into 
words and needs none. As the moments of most loving inter- 
course between human spirits are passed in silence, so when man 
is joined most closely to God he hears only the gentle breathing 
that indicates His presence. But this silence passes involuntarily 
into loud jubilee : " The Lord exults rapturously over His 
Church " one of the boldest, most wondrous sayings of the Old 
Testament, which is not presumptuous only because the seer was 
vouchsafed a glimpse into the unfathomable decree of love 
revealed in the New Testament. 

Finally, like the earlier prophets, Zephaniah inserts in his 
picture of the future Church the return of the scattered, captive 

1 f> "1E54 in the same sense as in Hos. ii. 1 : The name expresses the state. In 
the second member, instead of the dative, an apostrophe seems to be used. 

2 Cf. Num. xxiii. 21, p. 138. 

3 Isa. Ixv. 19. Deutero-Isaiah often alludes to Zephaniah. 



Israelites, iii. 18-20, where it is intimated that these very exiles 
will cause Yahveh to be acknowledged in the lands of their 
sojourn, a peaceful reversal of the martial outlook of Obad. ver. 
1 9 ff., whose limits withal have of necessity given place to a far 
more comprehensive view of God's kingdom. 

If Zephaniah has not spoken of the human mediator of the 
days of redemption, who was to spring out of David's stem, he 
bears witness all the more powerfully to the divine aim, which 
even the Messiah must serve, viz. the future blessed rule of 
God, which according to him also will have its centre on 
Zion, while dispensing life and blessing throughout the world. 
God Himself in the midst of the purified Church as its King, 
its Hero, its Saviour, joined to it in blessed fellowship of 
love, this, in fact, is the climajc of the consummation, the 
goal of the divine ways. The range of the divine plan, the 
universality of the judgment which must subserve that plan, 
the universality of the redemption aimed at, are dwelt on by 
Zephaniah with special emphasis ; and the necessity of an 
inward purifying, sanctifying, and in particular humbling of the 
Church by the fall of the outward city of God is here declared 
with a definiteness that shows progressive insight into the 
deep corruption of the nation. Zephaniah has not the origin- 
ality and wealth of an Isaiah ; but his visions move around 
the summits of Isaiah's prophecy, illumining them from fuller 
consciousness of the range they command. 

NOTE A. This indication of time is certainly elastic, since 
Josiah reigned thirty-one years. The main question is, whether 
God's word came to Zephaniah before or alter the king's reforma- 
tion of the worship of God, which, according to 2 Kings xxii. 3 ff., 
took place in his eighteenth year, on the basis of the newly- 
found Book of the Law. But 2 Chron. xxxiv. 3 shows that Josiah 
was engaged in restoring the pure worship of Yahveh before, and 
indeed from the twelfth year of his reign, although not with such 
thoroughness and severity. Now Zephaniah's oracle was scarcely 
spoken after the king's eighteenth year (Delitzsch, Kleinert), 
since the sentence of rejection on Jerusalem and its priests is 
universal, and nothing is heard of a salutary crisis and a praise- 
worthy effort of the leaders of the people. It fell, more probably, 
between the twelfth and eighteenth year (Hitzig, et a/.), and most 
probably of all in the early part of Josiah's reign, when the king, 
beginning to reicpn at eight years of age, had not as yet time and 
strength to carry out his good intentions (so also Ewald, Schrader). 


We do not take " the remnant of Baal " (i. 4) as implying that 
Baal-worship was already reduced, but probably, as in Amos i. 8, 
ix. 12, the phrase =" Up to the last remnant." Just so, in the 
same verse, DB> is used in the sense : " Even the name of the 
priests I will destroy along with them " (Ewald). 

35. Habakkuk (note A). 

Habakkuk, like Zephaniah, speaks of the coming judgment, 
which must first smite Judah, but will next reach the victorious 
world-power also, and gives direction to the true servants of the 
Lord as to how they may outlive this judgment. If Zephaniah 
preached lowliness of spirit, humility, as the chief condition of 
experiencing divine grace, Habakkuk demands stedfast faith, 
which, as Isaiah insisted before, is likewise indispensable if 
the Lord is to save. But the two are intimately connected. 
Habakkuk also denounces judgment on the pride that springs 
from inner untruth, and contrasts with it the sincere faith that 
sustains in life. 

Habakkuk's book gives in most beautiful style a dialogue 
between God and the prophet, the lyrical expression of the sub- 
jective disposition of the latter alternating with the objective 
divine revelation imparted to him. So in chap. i. the prophet 
complains of the flagrant unrighteousness prevalent in, Judah 
(vers. 2-4), and receives the answer of God : " I bring up the 
Chaldsean!" (vers. 5-11). He then laments over the desolation 
which in spirit he sees the arrogant destroyer perpetrating (vers. 
12-17). In the second chapter the answer to this comes in a 
iivefold woe on the powerful criminal (vers. 2-20). The con- 
clusion is the choral echo of chap, iii., as an anthem of praise to 
the God who comes to judge and save. The soul of the whole 
is found in the middle. After the prophet has betaken himself 
to his watch-tower to see what reply the Lord will give to his 
complaining protest against the triumph of a foe still more 
unjust than the people he is to punish by God's will, he receives 
the answer: 

ii. 2. "Write down the vision and engrave it on tables, that 

one may read it running ; for the vision continues until the 

3 set time, 1 and it pants 2 for the end and deceives not. If 

1 Properly : " Continuance (remaining) of the vision until the end." 

2 ina> hiph., properly: to pit/, pant; here : to hasten. 


it delays, wait for it; for it certainly comes, it fails not. 1 
4 Behold, puffed up, his soul is not honest in him. Yet the 

righteous man, through his fidelity of faith he shall live ! " 
The importance of the following oracle is indicated by the 
direction to write it down, nay, engrave it on stone tables, so 
that it may not only stand plainly before all eyes at present, but 
that its very words may be preserved, and bear testimony in 
future days to divine revelation, after the oracle has been ful- 
filled. 2 But, contrary to expectation, the oracle that follows does 
not show us the Chaldaean's fate, but lays bare his inner 
character, because thereby his fate is already sealed. In i. 11, 
at the close of the description of the Chaldrean's unbroken 
triumphant march, it is said : " Yet he is guilty, whose strength 
is his god." In this carnal, self-glorifying disposition of the 
world-power that puts itself in God's place, its destruction is 
already wrapped up. Just so the central oracle (ii. 4) gives 
a glimpse into the inner nature of the antithesis between the 
overweening foe and the righteous servant of God, which forms 
the ground of their different destiny. The Behold ! calls attention 
to the hidden matter that turns the scale in God's eyes, and in 
which, therefore, the fate of men is to be read. Ver. 4a says 
of the world-conqueror : " Puffed up, 3 his soul is not straight in 
him." Inflatedness stands here in opposition to honesty. For 
arrogance, in which man makes himself God, always involves an 
untruth, deceit 4 towards God and one's self, the soul puffing 
itself out to a magnitude not belonging to it. Such hollow self- 
exaltation has been from the time of Gen. iii. a mark of a world 
estranged from God, and has its root in ethical impurity ; it is 
therefore obnoxious to punishment. Whilst the first half of 
the verse implies this punishment, without expressing it, the 
second, on the contrary, promises life to the righteous man. 

1 The LXX., who are followed by Heb. x. 37, inexactly make God or the 
Messiah the subject : lv ienffaf, fcr^Mmn auret, Sn lp%op.ttas %%u *< el p.* 
Xponffri. Rather the vision is meant, whose import certainly is a manifestation of 
God, as chap. iii. shows. 

8 Cf. Isa. viii. 1, xxx. 8 ; Job xix. 24. 

8 Cf. ^ay, swelling, hill. The pual accordingly signifies : to be swollen, here 

with arrogance and conceit. 

4 Cf. ver. 5, where wine in this sense is called a deceiver, seducing men into 
such arrogance ; and i. 13, where the foes themselves are so called as to their dis- 


Those meant are the righteous in the nation, for whom the 
prophet made intercession, and in whose name he said, with 
divine confidence, in i. 12 : "We shall not die !" The righteous 
shall abide in life despite the terribleness of the judgment, there- 
fore escaping the latter (cf. Num. xxiv. 23). 

But the chief emphasis of this central oracle lies on in:RDN3. 
The word, indeed, is not to be joined with P^V, but with 
nvv.i Substantially, however, the difference is unimportant. 
For when it is said through 2 what quality the righteous man 
receives the reward of righteousness (life), it is also declared in 
what element of his character the essence of his righteousness 
lies in God's view. The word n^OK signifies properly firm- 
ness? and is used of physical (e.g. Ex. xvii. 12), but mostly of 
moral firmness, on which one may build, therefore trustivorthi- 
ness, especially in reference to promises and pledges ; thus in 
daily trade and commerce : conscientiousness, honesty, fidelity (Prov. 
xii. 1 7) ; but especially of the fidelity of God, the Eock (Deut. 
xxxii. 4), whose word may be trusted without reserve. In the 
present passage it cannot refer to civic integrity, the antithesis 
requiring a disposition towards God. As a counterpart to the 
false inflatedness of the heathen, humble fidelity and uprightness 
is to be thought of. As the heathen are characterized in their 
inner nature as deceivers, so the righteous are characterized as 
upright and faithful. But prophetic usage and the connection 
of thought give the expression here a still more definite stamp. 
According to Gen. xv. 6, believing trust (P*?fc*^) was the condi- 
tion of Abraham's righteousness ( n i^*|y). Here we have plainly 
the same correlates, the ruios, corresponding to the hiphil, as 
elsewhere to the kal and niplial? This is abundantly con- 

1 On the lipkcha, which is not opposed to this conjunction, see Delitzsch, Comm. 
p. 50. 

2 "2 introduces the efficient medium of the preservation of life, as in Ezek. 
xviii. 22. 

3 From jK, to be firm, make firm. Cf. p. 288, and Gesenius, Thesaurus. 

* The hiph. properly expresses more than "to deem true," namely : to show or 

/ "/ 

attribute firmness, hence to hold firmly by something. Cf. the Arabic form (^j^^, 

which as to meaning =^ c , I, only stronger, but is to be explained in the hiphil 
sense. See Fleischer, Allgemeine Hall. Literaturzeitung, Erganzungsblatter, 1838, 
p. 152. The ri31JON, therefore, inheres in the pOKO, not merely in the thing in 
which he believes. Hence Abraham is called |DN3, Neh. ix. 8. 


firmed by Isaiah, who, as we saw p. 288, unceasingly preaches 
confident faith, sincere trust in God's miraculous help, as the 
condition of salvation and protection from divine judgment, Isa, 
vii. 9, xxviii. 16, xxx. 15. Consequently human n:io as the 
correlate of the divine is meant ; to the faithfulness of God 
that verifies His word corresponds that of man, which trusts 
God's word unwaveringly, despite all appearance to the contrary. 
This constancy of faith will, in a miraculous way, ensure safety 
in the fearful world -judgment. 

Consequently the LXX. rendered the word by irians with entire 
fitness. Only they wrongly read T 1 ? 110 .^ as if it referred to the 
divine fidelity : 6 Se SIKCUOS CK TritrTeax; pov fyjo-erai, against which 
the necessity of antithesis 1 and again Ezek. xviii. 22 are decisive. 
From this reading the one found in Heb. x. 38 has come. On 
the other hand, Paul renders the passage correctly in Rom. i. 1 7 ; 
Gal. iii. 11. Moreover, his use of the passage corresponds to its 
meaning. The antithesis to the works of the law established by 
the passage in the Galatian Epistle is certainly not the prominent 
one in the prophet. But it may be obtained from his words, 
for plainly Habakkuk describes disposition, stedfast, undivided 
surrender to God, trust in His grace, as the soul of the righteous- 
ness on which at last everything turns. The vital qiiestion for 
the righteous man is, whether he has immovable confidence in 
God ; for his righteousness itself is measured by this. The 
condition of salvation laid down by the prophet is thus essentially 
the same as is announced in the New Covenant : a faith that 
reveals the inmost character of the heart ; a childlike, humble 
and sincere trust in the credibility of the divine message of 
salvation, the contents of which were certainly elementary and 
therefore mysteriously indefinite in the Old Covenant. 

Thus Habakkuk joins hand with Zephaniah in teaching the 
docile and well-disposed among his people what was necessary 
in the time of crisis. If the latter intimated (Zeph. ii. 3) that 
even they who had done right must still zealously seek, in order 
to find, the Lord, true righteousness and right lowliness, and so be 
safely hidden on the day of judgment, Habakkuk names in one 
word 2 the condition of salvation that constitutes true righteous- 

1 This certainly does not apply to the LXX., who already were plainly mistaken 
in the first half of the verse. 

2 Even the formalistic synagogue felt the central truth lying in this utterance. 


ness and is inconceivable without sincere humility. It is faith 
in the deep Biblical sense of the word, unreserved trust in the 
Lord's salvation. 

On the mashal-like principle, Hab. ii. 4 is followed by an 
exposition of the threatening contained in it in the form of a 
fivefold woe on Babylon. The gigantic exertions of this world- 
power labour only for the fire ; for another power will possess 
the earth, ii. 1 3 f., where Isa. ix. 1 1 is taken up, but applied more 
generally. The whole earth will be filled with the glory of the 
Lord (cf. Num. xvi. 21), must therefore do homage to Him and 
no other. Everything men have built for their own fame or 
for the honour of false gods must vanish. Therefore let all the 
world be reverently silent before Him that reigns in heaven. 
Like Zeph. i. 7, this " Be silent ! " announces His approach. 

Chap, iii., the "prayer of Habakkuk the prophet, in dithy- 
rambic style," forms the lyrical answer, not to what was seen in 
chap, i., but to what was seen in chap, ii., to the announcement 
of the approach of the Lord, who will cause Hi glory to be seen 
throughout the world. It is a prayer uttered in the name of the 
nation, as ver. 14 shows; but as the suppliant broods on the 
decree of God which he heard before, that decree grows more 
vivid and real to his soul, and so he becomes the prophet who 
depicts the parousia of God. God comes in power to take 
possession of the earth, casting down the foes of His people and 
of His Anointed. 

iii. 2. " Yahveh, I have heard Thy tidings, I am terrified 
Yahveh, Thy work in the midst of the years call to life, in the 
midst of the years make it plain. In wrath Thou wilt remember 

The " tidings " is that the Lord will come to execute the world- 
judgment which falls, indeed, on the heathen world-power first of 
all, but fills every citizen of earth with trembling. For who can 
bear the approach of the holy God and see His glory unscathed ? 
Yet the seer calmly utters the wish : " Thy will be done, Thy 
kingdom come ! " Only, as a genuine priest he stipulates that 

In the Gemara (Makkot, f. 24a) it is said : " David condensed the 613 Sinaiti 
commands into 11 (Ps. xv.) ; Isaiah into 6 (xxxiii. 15) ; Micah into 3 (vi. 8) ; 
Amos (v. 4), or rather Habakkuk, into one: " The just man shall live by his faith." 
It is also worthy of notice, that later Judaism takes njltDK altogether in the 
sense above stated. See Delitzsch, ut ante, p. 53. 


in the midst of wrath God will not forget mercy, i.e. towards 
those who are free from pride and faithfully wait for Him. The 
grand picture of the appearance of the Lord, ver. 3 ff., borrows 
its features mostly from the theophany on Sinai which formed 
the basis of the entire Old Covenant. As He then showed 
Himself to His people, so He will now show Himself to all the 
world, in which manifestation certainly His fearful majesty brings 
destruction on the "house of the transgressor," by which the 
world-empire is meant ; whereas to the covenant-people that has 
previously passed through the fire of judgment (chap, i.), and to 
His Anointed One, this manifestation brings redemption and 
victory. 1 The Anointed of the Lord is not Jehoiakim, who was 
unworthy of such distinction, but had to be swept away by the 
judgment (Jer. xxii. 18 f.), and just as little the nation itself 
(Hitzig, Ewald, Kleinert, according to a reading of the LXX.), but 
the more worthy king who, as Isaiah and Micah sufficiently 
show, will outlive the judgment. Of his character Habakkuk 
does not speak more in detail, being quite absorbed in contem- 
plating the divine glory of Yahveh. Therefore, despite all the 
terrors and all the devastation that God's judgments must bring, 
the nation in whose name the prophet speaks is able to exclaim 
confidently at the close : 

18 " But I will exult in the Lord, I will rejoice in the God 

19 of my salvation. Yahveh, the Lord of all, is my strength, 
and makes my feet like the hinds, and upon my high places 
He makes me to walk." 

NOTE A. The date of Habakkuk's prophetic oracle is not 
indicated. At all events he foretells the invasion of the Chaldceans 
as taking place immediately, " in your days," i. 5. But in the same 
verse this event is described as scarcely credible. This certainly 
does not preclude the appearance of the oracle a few years pre- 
viously under the reign of Jchoiakim? who soon witnessed the 
judgment ; for we see from Jer. xxxvi. 29, that in the first years of 
this king up to the battle at Carchemish this prediction of the 
prophet was still regarded as absurd. To go back to Manasseh's 
days, when according to 2 Kings xxi. 10 ff. certain prophets 
threatened the land with like suffering, is forbidden by 

1 Cf. Judg. v., Ps. Ixviii., where also an appearance of God, in some degree 
analogous to the one on Sinai, is celebrated. 

3 So the majority : Knobel, Ewald, Hitzig, Schrader, Kuenen, Kleinert, Kamp- 
hausen, et al, 


which has in Hebrew a limited meaning of twenty to thirty years 
at most. Nor can the oracle be placed (with Delitzsch 1 ) under 
Jehoiakim's predecessor Josiah, in whose days Zephaniah spoke. 
In all probability the reform in worship had been carried out long 
before the appearance of the oracle ; Habakkuk has not, like 
Zephaniah, to complain of idolatry. And according to 2 Kings 
xxii. 20, the prophetess Hulda promised King Josiah that the land 
should be spared during his life. Consequently we must place 
Habakkuk's sayings, in accordance with the current view, under 
King Jehoiakim (609-599 B.C.), and in any case before the year 
605, the year of the battle of Carchemish ; for after that battle it 
was almost self-evident that the Chaldsean on his victorious march 
against Egypt would also visit Judah, which was in a state of com- 
plete dependence on the latter kingdom. Habakkuk accordingly 
is later than Zephaniah. The order in the canon furnishes no 
trustworthy chronological sign. The dependence of Zeph. i. 7 on 
Hab. ii. 20, insisted on by Delitzsch, cannot be proved. The 
relation may be the reverse, although Zephaniah borrows more 
than the more original Habakkuk. Nor can priority be inferred 
from the more compressed and forceful style of the latter; they 
are so nearly contemporaneous, that this difference must rather 
have its reason in subjective character. 

36. Jeremiah's Prophecies of the New Covenant. 

Jeremiah lived in the same period as the prophets last dis- 
cussed. He laboured a much longer time amid continued attacks 
and outrages, his period of activity extending from the thirteenth 
year of Josiah to beyond the overthrow of Jerusalem. Thus in 
this sad time of decline Jeremiah was the chief representative of 
prophecy before prince and people. Superficially regarded, the 
reformation of Josiah seemed to promise a future of divine bless- 
ing to the land. But the true prophet could not be deceived by a 
superficial improvement that made no change in the inward 
disposition of the people ; and under the Kings Jehoiakim, 
Jehoiakin, Zedekiah, he repeated with increasing definiteness his 
testimony to the impending destruction of the whole commonweath. 
All vain hopes, especially excited and fed by false prophets, he 
inexorably denounced. Since the nation would not forsake its 
sin (unrighteousness, immorality, idolatry), nor the princes their 
treacherous policy, it was settled in God's decree that Judah- 

1 Fr. Delitzsch, Der Prophet Habakuk, 1843. On the other hand, this scholar 
has recently put him in the time of Manasseh (Messianic Prophecies, p. 77). 


Jerusalem should drink the cup of suffering to the dregs, and of 
the theocracy hitherto existing not one stone should be left on 

While Jeremiah's office was predominantly one of rebuke, 
while he was forced to complain, accuse, pull down continually, 
he still directed his gaze to the future completion of God's 
Church. Although his call to repent like Hosea's dies away 
unheeded, yet in the end God's mercy breaks through as in Hosea. 
The divine plan in the election of this nation must yet be 
accomplished, Jacob's seed must dwell as God's people in the 
land of Canaan under a just ruler of David's house. 1 Moreover, 
this prophet, who leans in a striking degree on his predecessors, 
is not lacking in new, original features, partly arising out of his 
special charism, partly occasioned by the circumstances of the age. 
Salvation in him still more than in Isaiah bears the character of 
redemption, the penal state having meantime begun or at least 
seeming to the prophet palpably near. But redemption as 
deliverance from judgment, and the consequent establishment 
of the true divine rule, while not seen by Jeremiah in the same 
brilliant grandeur as by Isaiah, are seen in deeper inwardness. 

This spiritualization is a fruit of the prophetic spirit that has 
been ripened in the glow of judgment. The inner disintegration, 
which Jeremiah had to feel in Judah still more vividly than his 
predecessors, raised to certainty in his mind, not merely the 
imminence of external dissolution, but also the necessity of a 
more spiritual foundation for the future building. He was forced 
constantly to fight against the carnal overvaluing of the outward 
theocratic form, in which a corresponding disposition was 
wanting. He saw his contemporaries trusting with perilous 
infatuation in the outwardly accepted covenant with Yahveh, 
in the outward covenant-sign of circumcision in the flesh ; 2 in 
the outward temple, as if after the preservation of Zion in 
Isaiah's days no calamity could again befall it, although the 
temple looked more like a murderer's den, 8 in the outward 
sacrificial service, which yet, as former prophets had already 
insisted, could only be offensive apart from holiness and inward 
surrender to God ; 4 in the outward possession of the divine Torah, 

1 Cf. iv. 27, xi. 5, xxxi. 35, 36, xxxiii. 17, 26, xlvi. 28. 

2 Jer. iv. 4, ix. 24 f. * Jer. vii., especially vers. 4, 10, 11, 14. 
4 Jer. vi. 20, vii. 21 ff., xiv. 12. Cf. Isa. i. 11 ff. 


which, however, was falsified by the pen of false erudition and 
not observed in its true meaning ; l finally, in outward prophecy, 
that apparently promised good things under divine inspiration 
and in reality merely aped God's genuine messengers and clothed 
the thoughts of its own heart in the garb of solemn oracles, in 
order with such welcome preaching to deceive a credulous 
nation. 2 

In opposition to all unholy confidence in the outward form of 
the theocracy and its means of grace, Jeremiah proclaims that 
man can only attain salvation through a complete change of mind 
(/jLerdvoia), and that only in virtue of His forgiving mercy, by a 
complete remoulding of His relation to His people, can the Lord 
realize the true purpose that He has always had in view for 
them. Already in the days of Josiah, when the prophet is still 
uttering unceasingly the call to repent, 3 the notable passage is 
found (iii. 12 ff.), in which it is urged as a motive to repentance, 
that on sincere repentance God will receive His people again into 
a child's place, and acknowledge it as His bride, while He will 
so glorify Jerusalem, as His seat before all the world, by His 
presence, that the Old Covenant shall no longer be remembered. 
The oracle is addressed primarily to the Israelites of the northern 
kingdom already in exile, whom the Lord will bring back, so that 
no tribe or city may be lost ; if ever so few of them obey the 
call, they will multiply in the land in the days of grace, 
iii. 16. "And it shall come to pass, when you shall be multiplied 
and fruitful in the land, in those days, saith the Lord, they 
shall no longer say : ' The ark of the covenant of Yahveh,' 
and it shall no longer come into mind, nor shall they remem- 
17 ber it or ask after it, nor shall they prepare it. At that 
time they shall call Jerusalem : ' Throne of Yahveh,' and all 
nations shall assemble to it, for the name of Yahveh, for Jeru- 
salem, and shall no longer follow the hardness of their evil 

When, therefore, after the judgment the original blessing of 
creation (Gen. i. 28) anew displays its energy amid a rejuvenated 
people, the temple also will be remade, and shine in unimagined 
glory. No longer will the Lord's covenant be attached to the 

1 Jer. viii. 8. 

2 Jer. v. 31, xiv. 31 ff., xxiii. 9 ff., xxviii. 1 ff., xxix. 8'ff., 15 ff. 

3 Cf. especially Jer. iv. 1 ff. 


wooden ark, which has meantime vanished, 1 hitherto the sign and 
pledge of the covenant, often enough indeed abused by the self- 
deceit of a superficial mind ; but God's living presence will be 
so plainly discernible, that what the symbolical ark with the 
cherubim had hitherto been, viz. God's mercy-seat, 2 that Jeru- 
salem will be to the whole world. And this immediate presence 
of God in His Church will be so much more glorious than the 
presence of which that symbol was the medium, that the latter 
shall no longer be even remembered, to say nothing of its being 
missed or again set up. 

In this brief statement about the most holy palladium of the 
Mosaic covenant, sentence is passed on the entire concrete out- 
wardness of the latter. It is seen to be something that only 
imperfectly hints and mediates God's gracious relation to His 
people, hence only appointed for a limited time, namely, until the 
Lord's full revelation becomes matter of experience. " We have 
before us here the announcement of a complete destruction of the 
earlier form of God's kingdom, but of such a destruction of its 
form as is also the supreme consummation of its essence, a decay 
like that of the seed-corn which only perishes to bear much fruit, of 
the body that is sown in corruption to rise again in incorruption " 
(Hengstenberg). In contrast with the Church of his own age, 
possessing only the empty sign of God's presence, the prophet 
here sees the Church Of the last HaysTin which the Lord will be 
so vividly revealed, that the sign will no longer be needed. The 
full realization of what is here promised is found first in Rev. 
xxi. (cf. ver. 22). But the inwardness and immediateness of 
God's self-revelation and self-communication postulated by the 
prophet has only come into force since there has been a Church 
of the Lord which no longer misses the covenant ark, and 
knows of a revelation far more glorious than that of Sinai. 

According to iii. 17, even the Jieathen, drawn by the glory of 
God's revelation, will gather to Jerusalem, in the sense of Isa. 
ii. 2 ff. ; Micah iv. 1 ff. " They walk thither for the name of 
Yahveh, for Jerusalem," i.e. to partake in the glory of the Lord 

1 This feature shows that judgment will have gone forth upon Judah also, sweep- 
\l ing away even its holy things. That the covenant ark was destroyed by Manasseh 
' (Ewald. History) is neither to be inferred from 2 Chron. xxxiii. 16 nor the present 
passage, and is altogether improbable in view of the silence of the historians on 
the point. 
1 Ex. xxv. 22 ; Num. vii. 89 ; Ps. Ixxx. 1, xcix. 1. 


there manifested. The name of Yahveh in such passages is 
His revelation, Yahveh Himself, so far as He has made Himself 
nameable, and therefore knowable. Meanwhile, over the heathen 
impends a similar judgment to that which Israel-Judah has passed 
through ; but afterwards in like manner they will experience 
the grace of the Lord, 1 becoming then receptive to His 

Just in the later saddest time, when the judgment, as he/ 
knew, was going on its way unhindered, and he himself had to 
undergo the most painful martyrdom, under the reign of Zedekiahj, 
Jeremiah was often raised to the ideal height of the glorious 
future, of which formerly he was permitted to speak but seldom. 
An oracle of this kind is found in xxiii. 1 ff., where even the 
specifically Messianic outlook that of the Lord's perfect Anointed 
One is disclosed. Here a rebuke of the bad shepherds* (i.e. 
kings), who destroy and scatter the flock, turns into the pro- 
mise, that the Lord Himself will collect His scattered flock and 
appoint it shepherds after His own mind. But on this more 
general promise (xxiii. 4, as already in iii. 15) there follows a 
new commencement, in which the climax is reached, 
xxiii. 5. " Behold, days come, saith Yahveh, when I raise up to 

David a righteous Sprout, and he shall rule as king and act 
6 wisely and do right and righteousness in the land. In his days 

Judah shall experience deliverance and Israel dwell securely. 

And this is the name with which he shall be named : Yahveh, 

our righteousness." 

In "both these verses unquestionably a single, unique David ite 
is spoken of, who rises to power, and rules as king by divine 
arrangement; in his days, and by means of his wise and just 
government, the once divided, but then again united kingdom, will 
reach inner as well as outer perfection. The relation of the good 
shepherds (iii. 15, xxiii. 4) to the king is not, that his posterity are 
combined with him in this plural designation, although in xxxiii. 
17, 22, the indestructibleness of the Davidic rule is expressed by 
saying that David's posterity will be numberless, and one of them 
will always possess the throne. Eather the plurality (iii. 15, 
xxiii. 4) stands generally in contrast with the bad shepherds who 
at present oppress the people, popular leaders at work contempo- 

1 Cf. Jer. xii. 15 ff., xlviii. 47, xlix. 6, xlvii. 39. 

2 Cf. Zec-h. xi., xiii. 7 ; Micah v. 3. 


raneously being referred to. 1 But One towers incomparably above 
1 1 them, who, springing from David's stem, is perfectly righteous, 
I (and does justice and righteousness faultlessly, so that in his days 
the united kingdom of Israel-Judah has peace and rest. The 
oracle is so brief, because it seeks in a single word to awaken the 
remembrances of the promises about the glorious Davidite given 
long before. The mysterious npy springs from Isa. iv. 2, but is 
now defined personally like the similar names in Isa. xi. 1 ; it 
recalls all the glorious things uttered by that prophet (Isa. 
vii., ix., xi.), as well as Micah, respecting the Sprout. Jeremiah 
describes him in his main inner attribute by the word P^X, thereby 
recalling what had been said since Solomon's days respecting the 
true bearer of this kingly virtue, and in particular the prophecies 
since Hosea's time ; cf. Zech. ix. 9. This ruler will proceed wisely, 
implying subjective wisdom as well as objective success, and 
finally, in a way pleasing to God, will convert long-missing justice 
into fact. 2 And in consequence of his sound government the 
united 3 kingdom will enjoy rest and peace at home and abroad. 

Moreover, in this oracle there is not wanting a word designed 
to deepen and spiritualize the existing Messianic hope. It is the 
brief but pregnant ^i?"!V ^VT, " the Lord our Righteousness," a 
characterizing proper name and the watchword of the Messianic age. 
To whom the name is given, may be open to dispute. Ewald, 
Graf, Nagelsbach refer the suffix in iN~)ip>i to Israel, appealing to 
the similar language in xxxiii. 16, where the same name is 
given to the city of Jerusalem of the last days. But considering 
Jeremiah's fondness for variations, the latter passage is not 
absolutely decisive here ; and since the chief stress in the present 
oracle lies on the righteous Sprout, 4 the majority rightly refer the 
sentence to it. As the Messiah is called in Isa. vii. 14 " God 
with us," so here " Yahveh our Righteousness." Whether this 
view be accepted or not, the gravity of the word remains the 
same. Its significance does not lie, as the interpretation of 
the early Church thought, in the fact that the Messiah would 

1 The relation of the one righteous twig that perfects the kingdom to the good 
shepherd is not expressly indicated. These are different prophetic glimpses, which 
are not placed in outward relation to each other. See below on xxxiii. 14 ff. 

3 Cf. Hos. ii. 19, p. 233. 3 Cf. Hos. ii. 2 ; Zech. ix. 10, 13, xi. 7, 14. 

4 Cf. also ver. 6 : "in his day*," whereas in xxxiii. 16 it is said " in those days." 
The allusion also to the name Zedekiah (2 Kings xxiv. 17), undoubtedly intended, 
favours the reference to a personal ruler. 


be called Yahveh, who is our Kighteousness. The two words 
are not to be joined appositionally, but the name consists of a 
sentence expressing, like Immanuel, the relation of God to the 
Church. Its great wondrous import, however, is that the righteous 
character, the moral life of the Church, has its ground not in any 
outward institution or law, or in an outward action, but in 
Yahveh, the merciful God Himself, on which Ezek. xxxvi. 25 ff. 
especially gives a commentary, piv is not equivalent to salva- 
tion (Graf), 1 but " righteousness ofcharacter, good conduct." As, 
then, this normal stateTwherr~arnrmed of God, carries with it 
goodness and favour towards men, 2 so when promised to men it 
brings with it salvation and wellbeing. But, our oracle teaches, 
it does not lie in man's power to put himself into the righteous 
man's relation to God, and to keep himself permanently therein. 
The need of redemption felt by the most pious is met by Jeremiah 
with the comforting assurance, that hereafter the Lord Himself 
will establish and preserve the righteousness of His people, a 
promise involving as well grace to forgive and justify as to 
sanctify and help in holy living. 3 When, then, in xxxiii. 16 
Jerusalem is called " Yahveh our Eighteousness," this plainly 
means that the Church 4 there will be acknowledged as one whose 
righteousness has its ground and permanence in the Lord ; and 
when in xxiii. 6 the Church calls the Sprout of David by this 
name, it is implied (in a sense analogous to that in Isa. vii. 14) 
that the Church sees in him the one through whom a divinely- 
wrought righteous relation is brought about. He is the personal 
centre and head of the Church, in whom divine righteousness is 
presented most directly, and from whom it proceeds into every 

Perhaps one may say that this name, with which the prophet 
salutes the period of the great Son of David, contains the N. T. 
evangel in nuce : The New Covenant will be a state of righteous- 
ness in the Church, its salvation a fruit of its right relation to 
God, and this relation will have its root in the Lord Himself, 

1 Kautzsch rightly remarks (Ueber die Derivate des Stammes, p"TC, p. 39), that to 
put the consequence in the place of the causa efficiens is perverse. 

2 So Isa. xli. 2. In the name Zedekiah also the p*l is perhaps so meant, i.e. to 
express the favour of Yahveh. Jeremiah points to a profounder idea. 

3 On the former, cf. 1. 20, xxxi. 34, Dan. ix. 24, where pltf is to be observed ; 
on the latter, Jer. xxxi. 33 ; on the two, Ezek. xxxvi. 25 ff. 

4 Cf. Jer. xxxi. 23. 


being constituted and guaranteed by Him. The Lord Himself is 
this state, conveys it to the Church, and that through the in- 
comparably wise and righteous king of Israel's house of whom 
the prophets spoke long ago. 

The promises of coining redemption and of a New Covenant 
between God and His people are found in special abundance in 
the " consolation-book " of Jeremiah, chaps, xxx. xxxiii., which 
unless chaps, xxx. and xxxi. are of earlier origin, 1 which cannot 
be proved, likewise fall within the few years of Zedekiah's 
government, and therefore within the time of the greatest afflic- 
tion of Jerusalem and the grossest attacks on the prophet. That 
Jerusalem indeed must fall, and the people of Judah, like that of 
Ephraim, go into exile, is so certain to the prophet, that he 
assumes it as a completed punishment ; and it has even been 
supposed that these sections have been interpolated by an exilian 
prophet (Deutero-Isaiah). 2 But Jeremiah here raises the song of 
redemption in all the more comforting tones in days of foreign 
domination and exile. 

This we find to be the case immediately in xxx. 1 ff, where 
deliverance from foreign yoke is proclaimed as an act of God, 
by which He will conduct His people to its true destiny : 

Ver. 9. " And they shall serve Yahveh their God, and David 
their king, whom I will raise up for them." 

As in Ps. ii., the Lord's Anointed appears here in immediate 
conjunction with the invisible king ; it is one and the same 
government they carry on. Yahveh rules through His Anointed, 
who is called David, 3 because he not only springs from David's 
seed, but also perfectly executes David's mission. He is the 
true David, in whom will be seen in perfect form what the Lord 
had in mind in David's election, namely, perfect mediatorship 
between God and His people. Of course this " King David " 
is identical with the "righteous Sprout" of xxiii. 5, xxxiii. 
1 5 ; so that no return of the dead David is to be thought of in 
the sense in which the Germans expected the return of their 
Barbarossa, the Portuguese their Sebastian. 4 How this David is 

1 So Ewald, Nagelsbach : under Josiah ; Stahelin, Graf : Jehoiakim. 
s So Movers, de Wette, Hitzig. 

3 Hos. iii. 5 was the first to give this name to the king of the last days. But 
afterwards the idea became more concentrated and individual through, what Zech. 
ix., Isaiah, Micah said. 

4 So von Ammon, D. Strauss, and in the analogous passages in Ezek. xxxiv. 23 f., 


to be raised to unique familiarity of intercourse with the Lord, 
chap. xxx. 2 1 says in a few weighty words : 

" And his (the people's) governor shall come from him, and his 
ruler proceed from his midst ; and I make him approach and he 
draws near to me. For who is he that would pledge his heart l 
to draw near to me ? saith Yahveh ! " 

It is not a slight thing that then a mighty and honoured ruler 
of the stem of this now enslaved people again bears the sceptre 
(of. Micah v. 1 f.) ; but the most glorious feature in his kingship 
is his high privilege to come before God in priestly dignity, nay, 
to draw nigh to God as none else could do. 2 The close of the 
verse dwells on the greatness of this distinction. To pledge his 
heart to approach God means : " To draw near to God of his 
own impulse," supported by a good conscience. Thus it stands 
in contrast with ~t!ie~~clivme "calT: " / make him come near to 
me." But the oracle affirms still more than that the prince will 
share the privilege of the priests in not coming before God 
uncalled. The emphasis of the words as well as the spirit of 
Jeremiah's prophecy compels us to think of a more intimate 
approach even than that of the high priest, who was admitted into 
the Holy of Holies, namely, of a drawing near to God, for which 
no man can have confidence enough, but which is reserved for 
Him who sits at God's right hand and as true High Priest 
represents the people before the Lord in accordance with Ps. ex. 

If the Head is so closely joined to God, the Church also will 
belong to its heavenly Lord, and He to it. " Ye shall be my 
people, and I will be your God." This destiny, 3 already stated in 
the days of Moses, will then be first really fulfilled, as Hosea 
foretold and Jeremiah again and again repeats. 4 But to this 
end nothing less is necessary than a reshaping of the basis of 
the holy nation, the making of a new covenant, as is revealed in 
chap. xxxi. The prophet first gives us a glimpse into the 

xxxvii. 24, Hitzig also. The D^pH, so frequently used in Jeremiah, nowhere means 
in such a connection : to raise from the dead, but : to raise to power, as already 
in 2 Sam. vii. 12. 

1 yy) is to be explained after Neh. v. 3 : to pledge, stake. 

3 2*1 pil is taken intentionally from the priestly language, in which kal and hlph. 
are used of drawing near to God with sacrificial gifts. ''j3 affirms still more : an 
approaching. so as to touch. It is used, e.g., of Moses, Ex. xxiv. 2. 7. Seep. 128. 

4 Cf. Hos. ii. ; Jer. xxiv. 7, xxx. 22, xxxi. 1, 33. Cf. Zech. xiii. 9. 



" goodness of the Lord," l prepared in His imperishable /<//: 
(xxxi. 3, 20) for the nation after its return into the Promised 
Land. In this picture, painted con a more, chap. xxxi. 226 forms 
a peculiarly mysterious feature. There the exhortation to the 
rebellious, stiffuecked daughters of Israel to return to their 
salvation is based on the prospect of some new thing, something 
hitherto unheard on earth which the Lord will do. This new 
state or new divine work is described by a laconic mashal, 
incapable of reproduction with the same indefiniteness. So much 
is certain, that the Hebrew expressions make the emphasis fall on 
the distinction of sex, and accordingly a reversal of the ordinary 
relation is to take place ; whether generally, or in a specific case, 
the oracle leaves formally open. We shall not translate ^aion : 
A woman shall be changed" 2 into a man, but after Deut. xxxii. 10, 
Ps. xxxii. 10 : shall surround by way of guarding. Ordinarily it is 
the man's business to protect the woman, as the bird nutters round 
its nest in which its mate is brooding. The Lord will make the 
contrary obtain : The weak, little-esteemed woman shall be the 
man's guardian. This we understand not of a particular couple, as 
the Messiah and His mother, but of the antithesis of the humanly 
strong and weak, the highly and little esteemed within the people 
and nation. Strength and honour will hereafter lie, not in that in 
which the people has hitherto sought it, in manly force and will, but 
in feminine humility and lowliness, which is also receptiveness to 
the divine. Isaiah and Micah saw the Church as a woman con- 
ceiving in weakness and bringing forth in suffering and sorrow 
the Church that receives into its heart the word of the Lord ; 
whereas the rulers grounded their confidence on earthly might. 
Hence Jeremiah designates the defenceless and therefore despised 
Church of the quiet in the land as he does here. The miracle 
will be seen, that this Church will form the guard of proud man, 
who can never find safety in his self-confidence and strength. 
Here also Jeremiah does not renounce his inward, spiritual aim, 
which runs counter to the usual order of sense. He foresees in 
what the world-conquering might lies ; he knows the invisible 
and therefore scarcely noticed power that guards even those who 
think they ought to guard the weak. 3 

1 Cf. xxxi. 12, mrV 3itD, with Hos. iii. 5. 

* Ewald, Ausf. Lelirb. der hebr. Sprache, 2986. 

* Cf. Luther's saying, lie intends to guard his Elector better than the latter docs him. 


That time of salvation will contain the opposite both inwardly 
and outwardly of the present time, xxxi. 2 7 ff. " Behold, days 
come" (such is Jeremiah's favourite introduction, when he has 
something to tell in strongest contradiction to the present) " when 

1 sow the house of Israel and the house of Judah with seed of 
men and seed of cattle." This implies the abundant degree 
in which God sows new life, of man and beast, for the well- 
being of His people. And just as earnestly as God has hitherto 
studied to diminish and destroy this life will He now proceed to 
multiply and guard it. Hitherto God was the most dangerous 
foe, a power of terrible cunning, intent on plucking up the life 
planted, pulling down what was built, shattering, razing to the 
ground, destroying. 1 What promised to succeed He overthrew. 
No one had felt this terrible curse so keenly as Jeremiah. 
" Behold ! the Lord will now display the like energy," according 
to ver. 28, "for the salvation of His people." In those days the 
heritage of woe burdening the people will be removed (ver. 29). 
Then the proverb, now so sadly true, will no longer apply : " The 
fathers ate sour grapes, and the teeth of the sons are set on edge," 
i.e. the acts of the fathers are revenged on the children. This 
proverb, mentioned also Ezek. xviii. 2 f., has a certain warrant, so 
far as it is based on Ex. xx. 5, Deut. v. 9, according to which 
God visits the misdeeds of the fathers to the third and fourth 
member. But it is an abuse to make the solidarity of generations // 
weaken the moral responsibility of the individual ; in opposition 

to this current view, not in opposition to the Torah, Ezekiel 
insists that the Lord will reckon with each individual according 
to his moral conduct. Still less is a polemic against the Mosaic 
law to be found in Jeremiah's promise that a time will come 
when the curse, 2 now so palpably lying on all, will be cancelled, 
so that every one will only be punished for his personal sins done 
spontaneously. In this sentence we find a high truth uttered in 
relation to God's perfect revelation. 3 Giving it a more general 
form, we may say : The curse burdening entire humanity as an 
inheritance from Adam is cancelled in the New Covenant in such 

1 xxxi. 28, lpt>, properly : to watch over something ; cf. i. 12. 

2 Lam. v. 7. Cf. Herzog, Realencykl. (2nd ed.) vi. 529. 

3 That which is the divine norm for the exercise of human justice (Deut. xxiv. 16 ; * 

2 Kings xiv. 6) must at last appear in the exercise of divine justice, although for a 
time it is not to be seen everywhere. 


a way that the decision for and against salvation is put into the 
hand of each individual, and he only is liable to condemnation 
who continues under the curse by free choice. Hence there 
are good inner reasons for the prophet now to go on to 
describe a New Covenant that is to take the place of the one 
at Sinai : 

xxxi. 31. " Behold, days come, saith Yahveh, when I make a 
NEW COVENANT with the house of Israel and the house of 

32 Judah, not after the manner of the covenant which I made 
with their fathers on the day when I took their hand to lead 
them out of Egypt, which covenant of mine they have broken, 

33 and I am weary of them, 1 saith Yahveh ; for this is the 
covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after 
these days, saith Yahveh : I will put my law into their MIND 
and write it in their HEART, and will be to them a God and 

34 they shall become to me a people. And they shall no longer 
instruct every one his companion and every one his brother 
in this form : ' Know Yahveh ; ' for they shall all know me, 
from the little among them unto the great, saith Yahveh ; 
for I will forgive their guilt and no longer remember their 

Jeremiah's prophecy, everywhere, as we saw, aiming at a 

I spiritualizing and deepening of the Church's relation to God, here 
reaches its climax, where in one word the termination of the entire 
economy of the Old Covenant is announced. The prophet foresees 
a " Neiu Covenant" by which the one resting on the fundamental 
fact of the exodus from Egypt 2 and announced in the lawgiving 
on Sinai is made old ! Thus the kingdom of God is built anew 
1 1 from the very ground. And the basis on which this is done 
stands in notable contrast with that of the Mosaic covenant. 
The position of the latter is given in ver. 32Z> : On the part of 
men a breach of the covenant had intervened, on the part of God 
weariness with this covenant-breaking people. Thus a dangerous 
severance had ensued instead of union. That such a dissolution 

1 ^JDi like the Arabic Uj, to fed satiety, disgust in something, so in the present 

passage, LXX. Heb. viii. 9 ; Syr., Abulw., Jos. Kimchi, Sclmltens, Gesenius 
(Thesaurus, i. 223). Jer. iii. 14 also is to be so taken (against the LXX.). Modern 
writers have wrongly returned to the usual signification: whilst I had appropriated, 
mnrried them, which does not suit the train of thought. 
1 Cf. Jer. xvi. 14 f., xxiii. 7 f. 


of the holy covenant may be impossible henceforth, its nature 
will be altogether changed. It is true, a Torah, a revelation of 
God's will, will form the bond joining God and the people how 
could it be otherwise, if the Lord is to rule over them ? but 
the expression of His will will be written by God's finger directly 
on the heart, not on stone tables, from which God's will scarcely , 
found access to the heart. It is a glimpse of astounding depth | 
that is here granted to the prophet. The efforts and struggles of 
man to conform to the divine law will never satisfy that law, if 
the corruption of the human heart be taken into account (xxxii. 30), 
so long as man's inner nature is not so re-created by a divine act 
as to make its desires and aims harmonize fully with the divine 
will. So long as the law stands over against man as something 
foreign and outward, he will never keep it as he ought. For 
this reason in the days when the divine covenant is perfected, 
that covenant cannot be heteronomous ; but the human will must 
be brought into such unison with the divine that it does what is 
well-pleasing to God of its own native impulse. Then first that 
relation is really brought about after which the Old Covenant 
strove with inadequate means : God is theirs, and they are His. 
This covenanting, which transforms the heart itself, is an act of 
God's miraculous grace, as Ezekiel also emphasizes in analogous 
oracles, xi. 19, xxxvi. 26 f. 

When in this manner God's will has become immanent in 
every member of the Church, the Church's tull~~maturity lias 
come, which we found illustrated in Joel under a somewhat 
different aspect. 1 Then it will no longer be necessary for one 
member to teach and exhort another to know the Lord, for all will 
know Him from the least to the greatest, i.e. stand in living 
spiritual fellowship with Him; cf. Isa. liv. 13; John vi. 45; 
1 John ii. 20,27. 

What forms the indispensable condition for this whole blessed 
transformation, and therefore comes first in Ezek. xxxvi 25, here i 
follows at the close : " For I will forgive their guilt, and remember (| 
their sin no more." Even without this statement we must 
have seen that such a covenant can only be the work of a grace 
that does away all sin and obliterates all the guilt that has 
accumulated under the present covenant, xxxiii. 8. 

Here also we see everywhere the germs of New Testament 

1 Joel ii. 28 f. See p. 205. 


truth. Before the seer stands the covenant of grace, in which 
God changes sinners into His children, so that they are able to 
serve Him from holy love to Him and blessed fellowship of spirit 
with Him. 

In xxxii. 39 also the prophet speaks of this work of grace, 
dwelling especially on the union which must be the fruit of such 
an implanting of a godly mind and the blessing that must result 
therefrom, since the Lord will then have unqualified joy 1 in His 
people and load it ever with benefits. 

xxxii. 39. "And I give them ONE heart and ONE way to fear 
me always for their good and their children's good after them. 

40 And I make with them an ETERNAL covenant, so that I turn 
not away from doing good to them, and will put my fear in 

41 their heart, that they depart not from me. And I have 
my delight in them, to do them good and plant them 
in this land faithfully with my whole heart and whole 

To this statement xxxiii. 9 adds the significant feature that the 
benefits with which the Lord then gladdens His redeemed Church 
will make an overpowering impression on all nations, with which 
iii. 17 (p. 332) is to be compared. Of the city of Jerusalem, at 
present given up to the destroyers, it is said : 

xxxiii. 9. " And it shall be to me a name of delight, a praise 
and pride to all nations of the earth that shall hear all the good 
that I do to them, and they shall tremble and be disquieted for 
all the good and all the peace that I show to it." 

Thus not only the world-judgment has a mission to perform in 
the heathen world ; also the unexampled goodness shown by the 
Lord to Jerusalem will shake the nations out of their self-con fident 
complacency. Jerusalem will be to the Lord a name of delight 
in the eyes of the heathen, will be a sign of the delight He feels, 
hence a subject of His praise (bringing praise to Him) and pride 
before the whole world. The unrest and discomfort, nay, terror 2 of 
the nations, arises from their learning Yahveh's absolute superiority 
over them and their gods. But the perception of their own 
nothingness and of the Lord's uniqueness will lead to their praising 
Him, blessing themselves in Him, and bestirring themselves to 
obtain His salvation. 

Finally, chap, xxxiii. ff. repeats with slight deviation (see p. 334) 

1 Cf. Zeph. iii. 17, p. 321. * Cf. PS. ii. 11. 


the oracle of the righteous Sprout of David's stem, xxiii. 5 f. 1 
But peculiar here is not merely the transference of the name 
" The Lord our Eighteousness " to Jerusalem, which perhaps may 
be so named as the Church of the divinely righteous, but espe- 
cially the confirmatory exposition, ver. 1 7 ff. The emphatic 
assertion that the seed of David shall never lack one to sit on 
Israel's throne is based on Nathan's saying, 2 and is to be under- 
stood in accordance with it thus : " The kingship of this house can 
never depart from it, despite any temporary interruption in its 
rule." ? And as the Davidic royal house does not expire, neither 
does the Levitical priesthood, whose functions are established once 
for all. 4 Despite all appearance to the contrary (xxxiii. 24), these 
two pillars of the theocracy, a divinely-chosen (the Israelitish) 
monarchy and priesthood, continue ; nay, a greater future lies 
before them. According to ver. 22, these two orders, the kingly 
and priestly, will be numberless as the stars of heaven or the 
sand of the sea. What does this mean ? Considering the pre- 
vious circumstances of the theocracy, national and geographical, a 
monarchy so strong or a priesthood so immense would not be 
even conceivable. Prophecy thus contemplates an extraordinary 
enlargement of the theocracy, transferring the promise 5 made to 
the entire seed of Jacob to its two most important orders in a 
moral sense. It is also intimated that the future of Israel rests 
with these two. Only it is too definite an explication of the 
assurance here given to make it say, with Hengstenberg and 
Nagelsbach, that the whole of Israel will attain kingly and priestly 

1 The whole section (xxxiii. 14-26) is wanting in the LXX., and is denied by 
many to belong to Jeremiah, to whom yet the entire style of these oracles points, as 
even Ewald maintains. 

*2 Sam. vii. 15f. In the wording Jeremiah follows the form in which David 
(1 Kings ii. 4), and afterwards Solomon (1 Kings viii. 25), repeated the prophetic 

3 Here also (as in xxiii. 4f., see p. 333) the temporal relation of the one perfect 
Son of David to the rest is not more exactly denned. That the Daviuic glory will 
culminate in the One, is confirmed by the statement that eternal dominion is assured 
to the entirety of David's seed, ver. 17. But ver. 21 f. no longer rises to that one 
culminating point, but speaks of a measureless, multiple development, which the 
relation of the people to God begun in David awaits. 

4 With respect also to the Levitical priesthood, it is not stated (xxxiii. 18) how its 
ministry will assume a new shape through the downfall of the existing temple now 
in prospect (iii. 16). Only its continuance and growth (ver. 21 f.) are taken into 

5 Gen. xxii. 17. 


dignity, and that even the heathen will find admittance into this 
royal priesthood. 1 Later prophetic sayings, like Isa. Ixi. 6 f., 
Ixvi. 20 1, certainly indicate this mode of aggrandizement ; but 
here merely the future of the orders, which will survive the judg- 
ment and grow to an unexampled extent, is contemplated. In 
Jeremiah above all an oracle like this, stretching beyond the con- 
ceivable from the first, must not be understood in a mere material 
sense ; he insists on a more spiritual sense, taking as its starting- 
point and goal the inner significance of the Davidic and Levitical 
order more than its physical state. Like the relation of divine 
sonship founded in the Davidic monarchy, the priesthood attached 
to Levi's tribe also will have a vast number of representatives, 
so that its future will be related to its former state as tree to 
shoot, harvest to seed - corn, as the nation of Israel to its 

Jeremiah foretold the judgment on Jerusalem and Judah as 
immediately impending, and that in the form of the overthrow 
of the city and the deportation of the people to Babylon. There 
the bondage is to continue seventy years according to his 
oracle;* then the judgment on Babylon 3 and the return of the 
captives occur, of which he says so much, and following thereon 
the rebuilding of the city. 4 He sees the inward in combination 
with the outward redemption, like Deutero-Isaiah again. 5 The 
nation, after its return, enjoys in untroubled peace its fellow- 
ship with the Lord, and the blessing accruing to it therefrom, 
chap. xxxi. No more precise relation of the one true David 
to the Davidic house generally, that is to rule for ever, is 
stated. But it is very significant that the same Jeremiah who 
pronounces an inexorable judgment on the outward and inward 
form of the national theocracy, and even puts the exodus from 
Egypt into the shade by a new act of mercy, while superseding 
the law of Moses with its ethical as well as ritual enactments by 
a higher kind of revelation and a more spiritual worship, 

1 The latter is maintained by Keil only, according to Isa. Ixvi. 20 f. 
J xxv. 12, xxix. 10. To suppose a later interpolation on account of the predic- 
tion is without warrant. 

3 Cf. also Jer. 1. and li., which at least are Jeremiah's in the main. 

4 Cf. Jer. xvi. 14 f., xxiv. 6, xxix. 14, xxx. 3, 10 f., 18, xxxi. 23 ff., 38 ff., xxxii. 
36 ff., xxxiii. 7, xlvi. 27 f., 1. 4, 34. 

4 Cf. what was said on p. 33 respecting the one indivisible framework of the 
prophetic visions. 


declares the promises given to the fathers of Israel as well as 
those to David and his house to be as irreversible as the order 
of nature, in virtue of which the earth exists. 1 The contents of 
those divine testaments will only find a far purer and more 
glorious expression in the life of his people than has hitherto 
been the case. The new character of the Church, which is the 
product of God's creative, redeeming act, will, above all, perfectly 
harmonize with God's holy will, and thus even the outward 
form of God's covenant will be according to truth, and the life of 
God's people pure and undisturbed. 

37. Zechariah xiL-xiv. 

The following remarks may serve to justify the insertion of 
these oracles in this place. As the author of Zech. ix.-xi. 
appears to be a contemporary of Hosea, so the author of xii.-xiv. 
appears to be a prophet of the last period before the Babylonian 
exile. The northern kingdom is here no longer noticed ; it 
has plainly fallen into ruin. The prophecy revolves round 
Judah-Jerusalem, especially round the siege of the city, which 
will be invested and taken by the heathen, but yet at last will 
come out conqueror through the Lord's intervention. On it 
the hostile efforts of the whole world will be wrecked. Chap, 
xii. 11 takes us more definitely into the years after Josiah's 
death at Megiddo, after 610 B.C. Against the post-exilian com- 
position (to say nothing of the style of language and presentation, 
so widely different from that of the post -exilian Zechariah) 
tells the prevalence of idolatry and false prophets in the land, 
xii. 2 ff. The post-exilian messengers of the Lord have no longer 
to rebuke these two sins, whereas Jeremiah particularly has so 
much to do with uncalled prophets, chap, xxiii. As to contents, 
the announcement of a conquest of Jerusalem by the heathen 
finds no analogy in the field of post-exilian prophecy (leaving 
Daniel out of sight). Ezekiel, indeed (xxxviii. f.), depicts a 
final attack of the nations on the newly-built Jerusalem, but it 
is repelled by the Lord Himself. What Zechariah (xii. xiv.) 
combines is there separated, viz. the future conquest (in Ezekiel's 
eyes belonging to the past), having the exile for its conse- 
quence, and the last ineffectual storming of the city of God by 
1 Jer. xxxi. 35 ff., xxxiii. 20 ff., 25 f. 


the heathen. We therefore hold this massa to be an oracle 
coming from the last years of the old temple. 1 The simi- 
larity of Zech. xiii. 7 to xi. 17 has led, as we believe, to the 
union of the section with ix.-xi., as ix. 9 (cf. ii 10) brought 
about its connection with the post-exilian Zechariah (cf. also 
viii. 20 ff. with xiv. 16 ff.). The name Zechariah is one of the 
most frequent in the Bible, so that the identity of name may 
also have had to do with the matter. 

Thus even in the days when Jerusalem was in rapid decline, 
a seer took up Isaiah's assertion of the indestructibleness of the 
heaven-chosen Zion, and set in clear light its central significance 
in reference to the world-judgment as seen already by Joel. 
Nob that the author of Zech. xii.-xiv. held the city to be im- 
pregnable, in glaring contradiction to the prophecies of the 
other genuine prophets, especially of his contemporary Jeremiah. 
On the contrary, he foretells, in the most definite manner, Jeru- 
salem's fall, chap. xiv. "What he sees in chap. xii. relates, as the 
indications of time show (vers. 3, 8, 9), to the more distant 
future. Then a more general movement of the nations will take 
place against the city of God, whose cause the Lord espouses. 

Then according to xii. 2 f, Jerusalem becomes a cup full of 
drunkenness and reeling, from which all nations will greedily 
drink 2 stupefying wine. It becomes a burdensome stone, from 
which they will suffer hurt, trying their strength on it in vain: 1 
For the foundation-stone laid by God in Zion (Isa. xxviii. 16) 
cannot be thrust aside by the united strength of the whole 
world. The multitude of well-armed, assailant nations, who 
have all made God's city the aim of their destroying work, are 
smitten by God with blindness and reeling (xii. 4 ff.), like 
Pharaoh's armament, Ex. xiv. 24 f . ; on the other hand, the 
Lord's eye remains open over Judah, so that Jerusalem abides 
unmoved in its place, and Judah grows so skilled in war, that 
it expands and burns on every side like a firebrand in corn- 

1 So even Ewald. Reuss puts this section in the time of Manasseh ; Bleek puts 
xiii. 7-xiv. 21 under Josiah or Jehoiakiin, xii. 1-xiii. 6 (by the same prophet) in 
the last days of Jehoiakim or under Jehoiakin, Zedekiah. 

2 The figure occurs in Otmd. ver. 16, where it expresses the nemesis on the drunken 
revelling of the plunderers of Jerusalem. Jeremiah uses it more freely, xxv. 15, 
li. 7. 

s Jerome rightly reminds of the gymnastic exercises of this kind engaged in by 
the youth of his day in Palestine, as is the case still in Syria. 


sheaves. But while Jerusalem is God's proper seat, He is not 
bound to castle and temple of stone, or to precedence of race. 
He proves this by granting deliverance first to the country 
inhabitants of Judah who are also in distress l (xii. 7), that the 
house of David and citizens of Jerusalem may not be lifted up 
in carnal conceit. How their martial strength is divinely enhanced 
is shown in 

xii. 8. "On that day Yahveh will defend the dwellers of 
Jerusalem, and the stumbler among them on that day shall 
be like David, and the house of David like divine beings, like 
the angel of Yahveh before them." 

The coming of the divine rule, which is also a dwelling 
of the Lord in the midst of His Church, is made known in 
the bestowal of special gifts and powers. In the above passage 
the citizens of the future Jerusalem, who are without exception 
living members of the Church, 2 enjoy divine protection from all 
evil, and divinely-given strength fitting them for every heroic act 
of faith. The stumbler, i.e. the feeblest, who is weak of foot, 
will be a hero like David, the conqueror of the giant, who leaped 
every wall in the name of his God (Ps. xviii. 29, 33 If.). But 
David's house, that was chosen to guide his people, will be like 
superhuman beings, super-terrestrial Gibborim (Ps. ciii. 20), im- 
mortal and unconquerable, far superior to all earthly powers. 
This is further enhanced by the addition : " Like the angel of 
Yahveh before them," i.e. the angel personating God Himself, 
who once under Moses and Joshua inarched before them a 
guide to victory. Now David's house, as God's immediate 
representative, will be able to assume this guiding function. 
Then the Messianic idea has attained full reality, God's gracious 
presence is embodied in the king of the nation ; for self- 
evidently this king is presupposed as the one head of the 
Davidic house, and is compared to the guarding, guiding angel. 
The Lord, therefore, has a wondrous exaltation of this race and 
people in mind, little as any prospect of so great a future 
appears at present. But certainly the nation in its present state 

1 That because of such sympathy with the fate of the country people the 
prophet cannot have been an inhabitant of the town, is an inference characteristic 
of modern science. Was the author of Isa. viii. 23 a Galilsean ? Hitzig also is 
wrong in supposing that the Juda?ans are here thought of as encamped against 
Jerusalem, which ought not to be imported from xiv. 14. See below. 

* Cf. Isa. iv. 3, p. 262. 


is neither capable nor worthy of such exaltation. The way 
thither, as the prophet says in a noteworthy manner, lies through 
deepest humiliation, not merely outward, but chiefly inward. 

xii 911. "And it shall come to pass on that day, I will 
seek to destroy all the heathen who come against Jerusalem. 
And I will pour out on the house of David, and on the 
inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and supplica- 
tion, and they shall look on me, whom they pierced, and mourn 
for him, like the mourning for the first-born, and be distressed 
for him, as one is distressed for the first-born. On that day, 
great will be the mourning in Jerusalem, as the mourning of 
Hadadrimmon in the vale of Megiddo." 

As what precedes reminds us of Joel who described Jerusalem as 
the target of the hostility of all nations, and placed the judgment 
in the vale of Jehoshaphat in the immediate vicinity of Zion, 
so what ver. 10 says of the esoteric salvation of Jerusalem is 
allied to Joel ii. 28. As there, 1 an "outpouring of the Spirit" 
takes place, a rich universal dispensing of the Divine Spirit of 
mercy and grace. But the effect ascribed to this Spirit is 
strange. The E'wnn ; precationes, supplicationes, introduces this 
effect. The new relation of the Church to God is based on 
grace on God's side, and penitent prayer for grace on the 
people's side. The Spirit who brings grace will work repent- 
ance as the necessary condition of its reception. The evil they 
have done they will feel in its entire extent and full weight. 
Their gaze will be fastened on Him on whom they have inflicted 
an unmerited fate, and who is no other than the holy God 

Many schemes have been tried to get rid of or render 
intelligible the monstrous thing here affirmed by the prophet. 
Apart from unauthorized changes in the reading, 2 liTJ has been 
weakened into maledicere, 3 which has no warrant in usage and 

i See p. 206. 

8 A number of codices read V?X instead of ^x '< the former is a decidedly later 

reading. The old versions read "jjx (LXX., Vulg., Targ., Syr.), and even John 
xix. 37, Rev. i. 7 prove nothing for V^K, which Ewald and Bunsen prefer. The 
reading ^>tf ( = f>x), desired by Bleek after Michaelis, would be intolerably fiat, 

and on linguistic grounds scarcely comprehensible. 

1 So already Theodore of Mopsuestia. And Calvin : Metaphonce hie accipitur 
conftxio pro continua irritatione. Similarly Grotius, Rosenmiiller, Gcsenius. 


does not suit the mourning for the dead that follows. Rather 
the speaker, the Lord Himself, describes Himself as the One 
whom they pierced with deadly steel. 1 But how is this con- 
ceivable in reference to the living God ? The key is found, as 
even Hitzig confesses, in chap, xi., where we saw that the Lord 
regards the treatment of His representative as done to Himself. 
As the Lord in chap. xi. 13 regards the contemptuous dismissal 
of His servant as befalling Himself, so here He regards the still 
worse outrage, nay, murder ! But the prophet has in view not 
simply some past murder of a prophet, 2 but, as xiii. 7 especially 
shows, the future fate of the man of God. He sees that God's 
most trusty servant, the true Shepherd, who feeds the flock in 
God's stead, will fall victim to the hate of the house of David 
and the dwellers in Jerusalem. So hostile in disposition are 
they now to God. Before the Lord exalts them, they will com- 
plete their guilt, and the commencement of a turning to good will 
be their feeling keenly the crimes which they have committed in 
incomprehensible blindness. 

The sorrow of repentance will express itself in a national 
mourning like that occasioned by the death of the beloved King 
Josiah, who in the plain of Megiddo 3 found a hero's death in 
conflict with Pharaoh Necho. The mourning of Hadadrimmon 
in the valley of Megiddo cannot well refer to anything else than 
the country's mourning for that king. 4 This gave the finest 
example of a universal and yet sincere mourning. Thus distress 
for the murdered man of God will fill the whole people, and withal 
be felt as deeply as if every house had lost its best, nay, only son. 

1 "They shall look on me as one whom they pierced." For the construction 
Kohler rightly refers to Jer. xxxviii. 9. 

2 The traditional martyrdom of Isaiah under Manasseh has been thought of, or 
that of Uriah under Jehoiakim, Jer. xxvi. 20 ff. 

3 2 Kings xxiii. 29 f. ; 2 Chron. xxxv. 20-24 ; Herodotus, ii. 159. The place called 
here Hadadrimmon, whose site Jerome (ad loc.) fixes near Jezreel (under the modern 
name Maximianopolis), is consequently a more exact designation of the spot where 
Josiah fell and the mourning ceremony was afterwards presumably celebrated 
(according to 2 Chron. xxxv. 25), although according to the more precise account of 
Chronicles the king was brought mortally wounded to Jerusalem before he died. 

4 The ingenious interpretation of Hitzig, that the prophet means the mourning for 
the god Adonis (= Hadadrimmon), is to be unreservedly rejected. See against this 
comparison Baudissin's Studien zur Semit. Rdiylonsgesch. i. 295 ff. How could a 
prophet of Yahveh name a feast of this kind, of whose observance in the vale of 
Me"iddo no trace is found, as a type of the profoundest contrite sorrow ? Just as 
little can we think, with Pressel, of the mourning for Sisera (Judg. v. 28 ff.). 


Every race will mourn as if it had been specially concerned in 
that death and had lost its head, first David's royal house and 
the priestly one of Levi, those two bearers of the promise, who also 
stand side by side as "races" in Jer. xxxiii. 24 j 1 moreover, the 
other races all follow their example. The participation of the 
women is expressly noted, not only because they had much to 
do with mourning for the dead, but also because like the men 
they had special reason for this penitent sorrow, being no less 
concerned in the guilt (cf. Jer. xliv. 9, 15). 

This oracle of the seer foretells a wonderful change in the 
nation, which will first complete its evil-doing in terrible fashion 
and then be made conscious of it through the influence of the 
Divine Spirit The description of its evil-doing as a piercing of 
the Lord is not a mere metaphor or to be referred to the future 
in a typical sense only, as if the matter in hand were the murder 
of a prophet already past ; but it is a prophetic announcement of 
what lies before the nation's true Shepherd. But by the one 
thus shamefully murdered in the future does the prophet under- 
stand the Son of David promised by Isaiah and Micah, as well 
as in Zech. ix. 9 ? This might be inferred from the comparison 
with the mourning for King Josiah, as well as from the fact that 
this man of God is afterwards described as Shepherd (xiii. 7), 
which generally points more to a king than a prophet. On the 
other hand, the house of David here stands not on the side of 
God, but on that of the people, and is in great need of repentance 
(cf. also xiii. 1), and the parallel prophecy Zech. xi. shows that a 
prophet also may fill the shepherd's office. In accordance with 
this parallel it seems more probable to us that the experiences of 
the prophet as such gave him a view of the true Shepherd of the 
people, and he pictured Him to himself in simple prophetic 
activity, yet still as leading the better portion of the nation, 
until the enmity of the great inflicted on Him a still worse lot 
than the one depicted in chap. xi. 

The fulfilment first put it beyond doubt that the Shepherd 

1 It is impossible to state with certainty why the house of Nathan is placed 
specially beside David's house, and the race of Shimei alongside Levi's, really 
farming as they do secondary lines belonging thereto. For the Nathan mentioned is 
not the prophet, since a family in an improper sense (body of prophets) would here 
be out of place, but the son of David (2 Sam. v. 14 ; Luke iii. 21), and the race of 
Shimei placed beside Levi's is scarcely A Benjamite one (2 Sam. xvi. 5), but a 
branch of Levi according to Num. iii. 17 ff., 21. 


dying in God's stead is no other than He who in Micah v. 3 
feeds the flock in divine majesty. What seems in the prophecy 
a monstrous anthropomorphism was literally fulfilled in Him who 
was able to say : " He that sees me sees the Father." And even 
what is said here of Judah's conversion has through the Spirit of 
God found its realization, at least initially. When the Spirit of 
God was poured out on Jerusalem at Pentecost, the eyes of many 
were opened. Peter cried to the inhabitants of that city : rovrov 
Bta %et/3o<? dv6fj,(av TrpoaTrrjgavTes aveL\are ! And it is said, 
" they were struck to the heart " by this accusation : Karevvjrja-av 
rrjv KapBtav, Acts ii. 23, 27. What was it they saw when the 
covering fell from their eyes 1 That they had pierced the Lord 
Himself, the Son of God, who is one with the Father. When 
once all Israel shall learn the truth about this incomparably 
faithful and loving One who was designed to be its Shepherd and 
whom in fearful blindness it has put to death, its first gaze on 
Him will cause it unspeakable terror, its first feeling will be the 
heart-piercing sorrow of self-accusation. But this terror is health- 
giving, this sorrow brings salvation ; for it is the work of the 
Spirit of grace. That the heathen also will join in slaying the 
.^reat Shepherd of the tribe of Judah, and hence will join in the 
mourning, when they see Him (John xix. 37; Ptev. i. 7), is not 
said in this prophecy. 

Chap. xiii. 16 is to be joined closely to xii. 9 ff. The work 
of grace on Jerusalem is further described. It consists, as in 
Jer. xxxi. 33 f., Ezek. xxxvi. 25 f., in justification and sancti- 
fication. The former is promised as the effect of a fountain 
opened by God and flowing in Jerusalem : 

xiii. 1. "On that day a fountain shall be opened for the house 
of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and unclean- 

On the penitent cry of the princely house and the people of 
the city, covered as they are with blood-guiltiness, a fountain of 
cleansing will be opened at the instance of the same merciful 
God who by His Spirit produced the repentance. Their penitence 
itself can only be the subjective precondition of salvation ; the 
objective medium of justifying or cleansing must be provided by 
God. Whilst Isa. liii. represents the very suffering and death of 
the Servant of God, which according to Zech. xii. is the sin of 
the people and forms the subject of its repentance, as the means 


of expiation, chap. xiii. 1 stops at the wondrous fountain, which 
according to Joel iii. 18 also will adorn the future Jerusalem, 
and is content with indicating its effect, which is also mentioned 
in Joel iii. 21, but not put in express connection with the 
fertilizing water. 1 It will be a fountain for the use of the house 
of David and the dwellers in Jerusalem, to wash away sin and 
uncleanness. The latter word (TIJ) applies elsewhere to Levitical 
defilement, which is to be washed away with pure water, the former 
(nxtan) to sin proper ; but according to the Mosaic law the two 
stand in intimate connection. Uncleanness is called DKDn (Num. 
xix. 9), having an ethical background, while sin proper or guilt 
falls under the idea of defilement, 2 on which account the prophet 
here mentions it by both names, and promises that it shall be 
removed by pure water. What the manifold and burdensome 
Levitical usages of expiation and purifying fail really to accom- 
plish, the Lord will then effect simply and perfectly : the cleans- 
ing of His Church from everything that renders it displeasing 
in His eyes. The divine fountain, flowing abundantly and 
unceasingly, makes superfluous artificial means of expiation which 
of necessity are constantly renewed. When, therefore, Jerusalem 
is cleansed from the sins cleaving to it and made a priestly 
Church (Num. viii. 7), the Lord will preserve it also from new 
guilt, sanctify it, which is especially affirmed in reference to 
two sources of continual sin, idolatry and false prophets. 

xiii. 2. " And it shall come to pass on that day, saith Yahveh 
of hosts, I will root out the names of the idols from the land, and 
they shall not be remembered henceforth, and also the prophets 
and the spirit of uncleanness I will sweep away from the land." 

That at the time when the prophet speaks idolatry was 
practised in Jerusalem, is clear from the fact of his describing 
first of all the radical destruction of this abominable wickedness 
as God's sanctifying act. This is quite in keeping with the days 
of Zephaniah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel. The Lord will destroy these 
fictitious gods to the last vestige to every defilement of the lips 

1 In Zech. xiv. 8 the fertilizing effect of this fountain conies out more strongly, in 
the train of Joel iii. 21. Finally, in the wake of Zechariah comes Ezekiel, who 
expands into a picture (xlvii. 1 ff.) these outlines, here sketched briefly in the style 
of the early prophets. No proof is forthcoming that this order of dependence is to 
be reversed (despite Stade, Zeitschr. f. altt. Wft. 1881, p. 81 f.). 

1 Cf. "water of expiation," Num. viii. 7, which expression plainly alludes to the 
ethical side of uncleanness. 


and the heart. 1 The second thing from which He will thoroughly 
purge the land is the class of vagrant prophets, controlled by an 
impure spirit and partaking of a heathen character, so that ft 
pollutes the nation in God's sight as a hateful stain, a con- 
demnation again which is quite in place on the lips of a 
contemporary of Jeremiah. So thoroughly will the Lord wean 
the people that now assumes, without being called, the prophet's 
mantle and boasts of divine revelations, from this abuse, that to 
follow this practice will then be the greatest disgrace, nay, expose 
to death, and no one will wish to have it said that he 
belongs to this impure fraternity. Their own parents will 
accuse the lying prophets, nay, put them to a violent death, 
as is now done to the true prophets, 2 so alive will the Church 
then be to all the misery brought upon it by the arts of 
these fanatics and deceivers. That by the prophets to be 
swept away (xiii. 2) only the false ones are meant (so rightly 
LXX., Targ., Syr.), should not have been questioned. How could 
a prophet describe true prophets as a pollution to the land, to be 
abolished along with idolatry, and bringing the land into intimate 
association with the impure spirit ? 3 The expression is used in the 
same sense as in Jeremiah, 4 from whose discourses we see that in 
his time false prophets were the rule, true prophets a vanishing 
exception. These prophets are also seen to be thoroughly heathen 
by their self-inflicted wounds, which are made out to be scars 
received in conflict, such physical maceration ministering to 
exaltation of spirit, 1 Kings xviii. 28. But it is a wrong supple- 
ment to the prophet's thought to make him prophesy, as many 
do, 5 that prophecy will cease in the last days, because in the 
general divine illumination it will no longer be necessary, so that 
any one claiming to be a prophet would prove himself a deceiver 
by assuming such a peculiar attitude. What Jer. xxi. 34 says 
of the maturity of the Church only comes into view here in so far 
as the gift of trying the spirits, now altogether absent, will then 

1 So in the train of Hos. ii. 19, p. 232. 
8 Cf. xiii. 3, -|j;n, with xii. 10. 

3 nXJDtsn nf\, n t unclean mind and spirit generally, but in antithesis to the 
Spirit of God : Spirit of impurity, proceeding from unclean powers. 

* Cf. Jer. xxiii. 13 ff. ; Lam. ii. 14, iv. 13, etc. 

4 Hitzig, Kohler, Stade, and others. That our Zechariah himself does not profess 
to be a prophet (Hitzig, Stade), is only to be conceded in the sense that he does not 
wish to belong to the " wicked caste " (Hitzig) that gives itself this name. 



be so general, that a lying prophet will find no favour even with 
his parents. Thus we have here only the negative side, to which 
Joel ii. 28 f. gives the positive complement. 

But the present unhappy condition, in which God's noblest 
gifts are forced to serve the ungodly spirit, will lead to a most 
terrible judgment, the Lord renouncing His chosen instrument 
and so giving up to destruction the good who still adhere to it. 

xiii. 7. " Sword, arise 1 over my shepherd and against the man 
of my fellowship, 2 saith Yahveh of hosts. Smite the shepherd 
that the sheep may be scattered, and I will turn my hand against 
the little ones." 

To wish to join this oracle (xiii. 7-9) directly to chap, xi., as 
if it stood here in the wrong place (Ewald, Stade), was only 
possible through an entire mistaking of its sense. It is true, the 
Shepherd meant here must take an attitude to God just like that 
of the prophet there, xi. 1 ff. ; but xiii. 7 does not suit the close 
of that chapter, because there the good Shepherd has meantime 
been dismissed, and the flock is no longer under him. But it is 
incomprehensible how any one could confound one whom the 
Lord so emphatically calls His shepherd and man of His intimate 
fellowship, and who is the protection of the little, defenceless 
sheep, with the bad, vicious shepherd in xi. 15-17.* On the 
contrary, it is one whose guidance is the last refuge of the poor, 
faithful Church, a guardian of the Church who stands in intimate 
relationship to God, certainly none else than He of whose violent 
death chap. xii. 10 speaks as if in him the Lord Himself were 
murdered. If chap, xii 10 traces his death to the violence of 
the people, and xiii. 7 to divine infliction, this cannot mislead 
us. Both accounts are correct. His murder is just as much the 
people's grossest sin as God's heaviest judgment, since the most 
terrible punishment is for the nation to be violently deprived of 
the Head, in whom fellowship with God is incarnate. 

1 Properly =" Awake ! " i-fly is milra, contrary to rule, as in Judg. v. 12, Zech. 
ix. 9, because the iambic tone-fall is more appropriate to such a summons. Observe 
also the rhythm with ^jn and TVCJ?- 

* JVpV occurs elsewhere in the concrete meaning "companion" ( = jn) ; h ere 
in the more original meaning : companionship, fellowship. Very unhappily Ewald : 
"my Lord-nephew ; " so God is said to address the bad monarch, who yet as king 
stands near Him ! 

* Even Hitzig understands by him a bad although legitimate king. 


Thus the difficult question, considering the mystic character 
of the vision, which the prophet has in view in this heaven- 
favoured Shepherd, is answered here as in xii. 10. It is to 
be noted that by his murder, according to xiii. 8 f., the judg- 
ment bursting on Judah is completed, since after his removal 
the nation is two-thirds annihilated, whilst the last third 
(cf. Ezek. v. 2 f.) is put into the crucible, from which it emerges 
pure metal, moulded into God's true people (xiii. 9, like Hos. 
ii. 25). The power of the judgment is consequently released by 
the fall of the God-chosen shepherd ; the seer beholds his fall 
in conjunction with the dissolution of the theocracy. Whether, 
then, a pious prince of David's house stands before him, or, 
which seems more probable to us in accordance with the 
related chap, xi., a prophetic Head of the Church, in whom 
God once more directly assumes its guidance, the main element 
in this prophecy is, that God's true representative in Judah must 
suffer and die through the guilt of the nation, and that the worst 
catastrophe will be when this divine shepherd succumbs to 
the hate of his people, hate really directed against God Him- 
self, the nation thus filling up the measure of its enmity 
against the Lord. Here we have a profound glance into God's 
plan, which is further unfolded and materially enlarged by 

If, then, this fearful event presented itself to the prophet in 
direct connection with the fall of Jerusalem imminent in his own 
days, still his prophecy was not exhausted either in what befell 
Judah's God-estranged king, or in what Jeremiah had to suffer 
as a genuine shepherd of the people. The martyrdom of God's 
faithful servants could here only be typical, as its use in the 
second book of Isaiah shows. Only when Judah crucified the 
prophet of David's house who was entirely one with God, was its 
destiny completed : it was left without a shepherd, and fell into 
the hands of thieves and murderers. Therefore did Jesus, who 
called Himself " the good Shepherd " (John x. 1 1 ff.) with refer- 
ence to such prophecies, on the last night expressly refer His 
disciples to Zech. xiii. 7, 1 which saying must now be fulfilled in 
Him and them. If He alone, in virtue of His unique relation to 
God, could fully claim for Himself this title at once regal and 
indicative of love to the people, only His death had all the 

1 Matt. xxvi. 31 ; Mark xiv. 27 ; cf. John xvi. 32. 


terrible significance for the people, which the seer attributes to 
the violent end of the true Shepherd. That this image of the 
suffering and dying friend of God, like the one sketched in Isa. 
liii., tended strongly towards union with the image of the Davidic 
Prince of peace formed by the prophets, even the Synagogue 
felt (of which later) ; but Jesus Christ first exhibited the union 
of the two figures which appear to be in irreconcilable con- 
tradiction, thus proving the possibility and fact of this union 
having been intended by the Spirit of prophecy. Springing 
from David's house, He yet appeared before His people with 
no other legal title than that of the Good Shepherd sent by 
God, and submitted without resistance to dismissal, nay, to a 
martyr's death, without His kingdom of salvation and peace 
being on this account hindered in its victorious march. 

Chap. xiv. of the same prophet presents a new eschatological 
discourse. The Day of the Lord is here illustrated from a 
different side than the one in chap. xii. First of all, on it Jeru- 
salem is attacked and taken by all the heathen, half of the people 
being left in the city (xiv. 1, 2). Then the Lord marches forth 
against the enemies of His city (ver. 3), to smite them down 
before it by a miraculous pestilence (ver. 12), at the same time 
making them attack each other in hand-to-hand conflict (ver. 1 3). 
These two different acts (xiv. 1 f. and 3 ff.) are combined under 
the idea of the " Day of Yahveh," ver. 1, which therefore does 
not represent a strict temporal unity , but, on the other hand, that 
it may be concentrated in closer unity, is shown in ver. 6 1, where 
stress is laid on such unity. Here also the seer is marked by the 
transcendental character, that we found e.g. in Isa. xxiv. xxvii., 
where the prophet's gaze is less confined within the bounds of the 
historical present than is the case elsewhere ; on the contrary, 
looking from a lofty perspective, he sees earthly things very con- 
cretely indeed, but in spiritual absoluteness, the intermediate 
points of transition disappearing entirely. Thus in ver. 2 it is 
all nations, not the Chaldaans alone, who conquer Jerusalem, and 
the divine judgment upon them is linked immediately to their 
victory, ver. 3. The image of the new kingdom of God arising 
out of the judgment thrusts itself into its very midst (vers. 8-11), 
and the worship of the heathen in Jerusalem follows at once on 
their destruction (ver. 16 ff.). The description is of a strongly 
visionary character, so that, while everything takes sensuous 


forms, these can nowhere be understood in a merely sensuous 
meaning, the outer framework being merely the veil of the 
mysterious divine working. Thus in form and contents the 
seer most closely follows Joel. What has just been said 
applies equally to the picture of the judgment of the nations, 
ver. 3 ff. 

xiv. 3. " And Yahveh shall march forth and fight against the 
heathen as on the day when He fought, on the day of hand- 

4 to-hand conflict. And His feet shall stand on that day upon 
Mount Olivet, that lies before Jerusalem eastward. And 
Mount Olivet shall split from the middle eastward and west- 
ward into a very great valley, and half of the mountain shall 

5 move northward and half southward. And ye shall flee into 
the valley of my mountains ; for the valley of the mountains 
shall reach to Azel. And ye shall flee as ye fled before the 
earthquake in the days of Uzziah, king of Judah. And 

6 YAHVEH SHALL COME, my God, all the saints with thee. And 
it shall come to pass on that day no light shall be, the stars 

7 of splendour shall be veiled. And it shall be a definite DAY 
known to the Lord, not day and not night, but at eventide 
it shall be LIGHT." 

Here, as in Joel iii., the judgment takes place in the immediate 
neighbourhood of Jerusalem, the heathen having streamed together 
against the city, and especially swarming in the Kidron valley. 
Over this valley the Lord, who marches forth as His people's 
champion, takes His stand on the Mount of Olives commanding 
the city (cf. Ezek. xi. 23). But the mountain miraculously divides, 
a broad valley girt by a mountain-wall appearing. Thither, into 
the " valley of my mountains " (i.e. into the valley enclosed by 
the mountains built by the Lord), the inhabitants of Jerusalem, 
terrified by the shaking of the earth, spontaneously flee, 1 so that 
the mountain on which God, the world-judge, stands becomes a 
fastness for His Church. Thus in the last decisive conflict He 
brings it unexpected help. Then He comes, and on His appear- 
ance the words of the seer pass into prayer : " All the saints with 
Thee ! " The angels accompanying the Judge and executing His 
sentence are meant, as in Joel iii. 11. Ver. 6 f. also adopts 

1 That they can pass at once from the city into the valley, is affirmed in the clause 
by the obscure word ?K, which, according to Micah i. 11, is to be understood of a 
locality in the immediate neighbourhood of Jerusalem. 


the conception of the Day of the Lord usual since Joel's days ; 
mysterious darkness will veil in gloom this baleful day. It is 
without the dear light of heaven. 1 That one day, known to the 
Lord and fixed by Him, will lack the light of day. But after 
light and darkness have struggled together the whole day, at 
eventide it shall be light, as after heavy storm. Post tenebras lux 
is the motto of the whole of prophecy. Even the terrible cata- 
strophe of the final judgment, which is here, as in Joel, at first 
veiled in impenetrable gloom, leads to light and life. Out of it 
comes the rejuvenated Jerusalem, from which perennial living 
waters stream through the land, xiv. 8. 

xiv. 9. " And on that day YAHVEH SHALL BE KING OVER THE 


The result of the final judgment is the unlimited rule of the 
true God revealed in Israel, who is already Lord of the whole 
earth in a certain sense (Micah iv. 13), but is then acknowledged as 
king universally, after all the heathen have felt His power. The 
victory over the whole world of nations necessarily brings with 
it this universal rule of God, on which account pKrr?3 is not to 
be limited, with Kohler, to the land of Judah, as in the next 
verse, where the residence of this universal ruler is described. 
Yahveh will be One, i.e. acknowledged by all the world as the 
only God, in which character the law had long ago revealed Him 
to Israel, and so in very deed He will have no other God beside 
Him. 2 Even the dangerous manifoldness of His name, which 
had the effect of multiplying God Himself, the diverse concep- 
tion of His nature giving rise to an alter Deus, will cease among 
Israel and the nations. His true name, guarded against all mis- 
understanding, will, in consequence of His perfect revelation, be 
in every mouth. 

In ver. 10 f. the "holy mountain," on which God then takes 
up His abode, is described with geographical distinctness, but not 
without ideal transfiguration. It is Jerusalem restored to its full 
compass and raised to public distinction, encircled by a fertile 
country, secure against the ban, i.e. the extreme judgment of the 

1 Cf. Joel ii. 31, iii. 15. In Zech. xiv. 6 the kethib pXS^ Hilp\ the splendid 
ones (stars, cf. Job xxxi. 26) shall withdraw themselves, is to be retained, in accord- 
ance with Joel iii. 15 ; the Keri reads less suitably : jiNBpi rCPp, cold and frost. 

* Deut. vi. 4, cf. iv. 35, 39, v. 7 ; Ex. xx. 3. 


Lord, because its deadly sins have ceased. But the prophet's gaze 
falls back once more (xiv. 12 ff.) on the judgment-act of the 
Lord ; now its mode is more precisely indicated for the first time, 
and in ghastly colours. In consequence of the plague with which 
the Lord smites the enemy, they will rot away during life, and 
also slaughter each other, two forms of national judgment such 
as history furnishes on a smaller scale, 1 and as are constantly 
recurring among the enemies of God. Thus all that will be left 
for the defenders of Jerusalem will be the pursuit, in which 
Judah also takes part, 2 and the division of the spoil. 

But all the heathen who escape destruction at the judgment 
will come up yearly to the residence of King Yahveh to offer 
worship, and so will form with Israel one great festive Church, 
celebrating the feast of Tabernacles, xiv. 16 ff., and in keeping 
with the meaning of the feast will offer thanks for the bounties 
of nature, and pray for further blessings on the earth. Whoever 
does not journey thither is excluded from rain, and therefore 
from blessing, not excepting even Egypt, watered in other ways 
(p. 215). The prosperity of every land, the welfare of every 
people, consequently depends on whether they worship the King 
of the divine kingdom, Yahveh of hosts, or not.. 

xiv. 2 f. " On that day ' holiness of Yahveh * will stand on 
the bells of the horses, and the pots in the house of Yahveh will 
be like the sacrificial bowls before the altar. And every pot in 
Jerusalem and Judah will be holiness of Yahveh of hosts, and all 
who sacrifice come and take of them, and cook therein, and there 
shall no more be any Canaanite in the house of the Lord of hosts 
in that day." 

To the universal extension of God's kingdom over the earth 
corresponds the extraordinary increase in the holiness of Jeru- 
salem, where what is most profane and worldly in itself will 
bear the stamp of the holy God. By way of example the bells 
of the horses are mentioned, which hitherto served merely 
worldly ends as a resource and luxury of vain princes (ix. 10). 
On their bells will one day stand the sacred inscription found on 
the high priest's diadem. There is nothing so earthly and worldly 

1 Cf. for the first Isa. xxxvii. 36 ; for the second, Judg. vii. 22 ; 2 Chron. xx. 23. 
See p. 213. 

2 The context shows that ver. 14 cannot, as the 'majority think, refer to a conflict 
of Judah against Jerusalem. See Kb'hler here. 


that it will not then be consecrated by nearness to God to the 
service of the Most High. And what hitherto had possessed the 
lowest degree of holiness, such as the vessels used in cooking the 
sacrificial flesh, will then be so holy that it may be brought before 
the Lord, like the sacrificial bowls filled with blood, and borne to 
the altar. Nay, every vessel in Judah-Jerusalem will have the 
character of holiness, so that the masses of strangers may use 
them without hesitation for purposes of worship. In consequence 
of this the unworthy traffic in new vessels and animals for sacri- 
fice that draws traders l there will cease in the temple, i.e. in its 
precincts. This traffic, so repugnant to the prophet, which our 
Lord significantly opposed with ardent zeal as a desecration of the 
temple, 2 will then be needless and impossible, everything in the 
land being holy. We see that as the temple enlarges, so that all 
nations appear in its forecourts, so the holiness of the God dwelling 
therein gains such intensity that it penetrates everything in the 
land. All this did a prophet see and say at a time when, as he 
clearly knew, the temple and the holy city were doomed to 
destruction ! 

is perhaps here to be taken with Hitzig, not in the national, but in the 
ethical sense. Cf. Prov. xxxi. 24 ; Job xl. 30 ; Isa. xxiii. 8. 
2 Matt. xxi. 12 f.; Mark xi. 15 ff.; Luke xix. 45 f.; John ii. 14 ff. 


38. Ezekiel's Oracles and Visions. 

/COMPARED with previous prophetic discourse, the prophecy 
\J of the period of the exile shows a notable difference. If 
hitherto the menace of destroying judgment everywhere stood in 
the foreground, now when judgment has run its course the pro- 
mise of the redemption and new birth of God's people forms the 
main subject of prophetic announcement. The transition is repre- 
sented by JEzekiel, 1 a younger contemporary of Jeremiah, who had 
been deported with King Jehoiakin even before Jerusalem's fall, 
and called in his banishment to the prophetic office. In the first 
part of his book (i. xxiv.), spoken before 588 B.C., the announce- 
ment of judgment still predominates. The rebellious house of 
Israel (Judah), the city of Jerusalem with its temple defiled by 
heathen abominations, are doomed to destruction ; Judah, like 
Israel, must go into exile. But after all this is done, in the 
second part (xxxiiL-xlviii.), the oracle of promise, which pre- 
viously only appeared here and there amid words of condemna- 
tion, speaks in clear, full tones. 

We have first of all to call attention to these beams of light in 
the book (i.-xxiv.) full of mourning, lamentation, and woe. The 
exile inflicted on the nation is to last only a fixed number of years 
(iv. 5 f.), like the Egyptian bondage ; of the nation abandoned 
in great measure to judgment a small remnant is preserved for 
the future (v. 3) ; this remnant will be gathered from all lands, 
whither it has been dispersed (xi. 17). Just where the departure 
of the divine Shekinah from the temple is spoken of, a future 
spiritualizing of the Church's relation to God is foretold, analogous 
to the one promised by Jeremiah (xxxi. 31 ff.), Ezek. xi. 19 f., 
an oracle repeated in more complete form in the section of pro- 
mise, xxxvi. 25 ff. 

1 Cf. art. " Ezekiel," in Herzog, 2nd ed. iv. 462 ff. 


Also the symbolic description of the history of Jerusalem ends 
with the promise of unexampled experience of grace after the 
judgment. The representation is symbolic in a twofold respect, 
the city being characterized in its course of development, while 
the Church is typified therein ; and just because of this religious, 
moral character of Jerusalem it is presented in personal form as 
a woman. It was a helpless foundling, to which Yahveh, out of 
mere pity, showed tender care, thus securing its life and growth. 
But it was an ill-starred, graceless foster-child, which, instead of 
remaining true to its legal lord, gave itself up to whoredom, and 
therefore must bear its shame. Its history, however, will not 
end at this point, but at the divine favour shown to the faithless 
one, with whom the Lord establishes His covenant anew and for 
ever. Jerusalem certainly behaved worse than Samaria and even 
Sodom, her sisters (xvi. 49-51). But the Lord will also restore 
these, in order to be able again to have mercy on Jerusalem 
(xvi. 53). This linking of the mercy to Jerusalem with that shown 
to Sodom, which stands, of course, typically or representatively 
for heathendom lost and far from God, 1 is extraordinarily signi- 
ficant in every aspect. It implies that God does not exercise 
judgment and grace according to party caprice, but that the same 
mercy which is shown to the covenant people involved in sin 
and suffering, must also at last be shown to the heathen world 
condemned for like sins, but more excusable. When Smend 
asserts (pointing to ver. 47) that Ezekiel does not follow up the 
thought of a restoration of Sodom, the only inference, certainly a 
weighty one, to be drawn from the absence in the visions 
xl.-xlviii. of any account of a converted heathendom outside 
Canaan is, that the picture does not give the entire image of 
God's rule upon earth floating before the mind of Ezekiel. That, 
on the other hand, the oracle does speak in perfect seriousness 
of the restoration of the condemned heathen cities, cannot reason- 
ably be disputed, 2 when one reads (xvi. 61) in what relation 
they stand to Jerusalem, and that the highest distinction and 
also the deepest humiliation of Jerusalem will lie in its being 
raised to the position of mother-city. 

1 So also Hos. xi. 8 ; Matt. x. 15; Markvi. 11. In contrast with the first passage 
(p. 239), the present shows a material advance. The mercy of the Lord, unable to 
forsake His people, will have mercy on all, in order to save it. 

2 Smend would derive this prospect from a "momentary polemical interest." 


xvi. 60. "But I will remember my covenant with thee in the 

days of thy youth, and establish with thee an eternal cove- 

61 uant. And thou shalt remember thy ways, and feel shame 

when thou takest (to thee) thy sisters, who are greater than 

thou, to those who are smaller than thou, and I give them 

to thee for daughters, and that not in virtue of thy covenant. 

6 2 And I will establish my covenant with thee, and thou shalt 

63 learn that I am Yahveh, that thou mayest remember this 

and be ashamed and open the mouth no more l for thy feeling 

of disgrace, when I provide thee with expiation for everything 

thou hast done, saith Yahveh, Lord of all." 

The whole of the expressive picture, given in this chapter of 

God's ways and those of His Church, is well calculated to set in 

clear light His unfathomable love and the Church's unworthiness. 

If the beginning of the history of Jerusalem was a divine 

election of grace, the end will be pure mercy. The sins which 

deprived it of the covenant blessing will then stand before it 

in vivid remembrance. It will see that God's love, which 

encompasses it continually, has turned again to it only because 

it is infinite mercy and puts grace in the place of justice. 

The divine benefits will close its niouth, because it keenly 

feels how little it has deserved such distinction. Thus the 

fruit of beneficent grace is the deepest humbling and inward 

repentance, such as the severest judgment is powerless to produce. 

But this unmerited divine favour culminates in the fact that this 

city, which by nature had no privilege above its sisters, and after 

its traitorous conduct was condemned to the lowest place, acquires 

the other cities as her own, becoming the mother of the rest, 

as well of those that surpass her in age and magnitude as of 

the minor ones. This follows not by covenant right, for this she 

has lost by breaking the covenant, but by the Lord's free grace. 2 

It ought not to be necessary to observe that, by these cities, great 

1 " Opening of the mouth" (so again only in Ezek. xxi. 29) is not arrogance, but 
rafftiria, the utterance of exulting self-confidence. 

2 Ver. 61: *]rVl3D 8& Not by a covenant that is thine, in virtue of which thou 
mightest demand something. Such an attitude, indeed, on the part of Israel is the 
natural effect of the covenant with Abraham ; but that covenant, belonging'to the 
days of its youth (ver. 60), is broken, and therefore no longer belongs to it with its 
rights. For this reason there is a new covenant, a free dispensation of the grace of 
God. Schrader erroneously, after John x. 16 : " Such as were without law, such as 
did not belong to thy covenant. " 


and small, all of which, without regard to the rank they previ- 
ously held in the world, must be inferior to Jerusalem as the 
city where God dwells, and through which He gives His revelation, 
cannot be meant specifically Samaria and Sodom with their 
surrounding " daughters ; " but that here what is affirmed in 
Ps. Ixxxvii. of nations, viz. that they would become the spiritual 
children of Jerusalem, is affirmed of cities generally, so that the 
fountain of life there issuing from the living God will stream over 
them. That Samaria and Sodom are included those two models 
representing estrangement from God raised to its highest degree 
is undeniable; nowhere in the Old Testament is the Lord's 
all-pitying grace revealed more gloriously than here. 

To obtain a true picture of Ezekiel's prophecy, we must not 
ignore or unduly weaken such pregnant features. So far from 
putting the ground of salvation, and consequently the essence 
of religion, in legal performances, this prophet emphasized most 
strongly the grace of God as the sole and sufficient ground 
of salvation. Like Jeremiah, he unmercifully exposes the in- 
sufficiency of the common theocratic righteousness, with which 
the carnal mind of the Jews satisfied itself, shattering the claims 
built on their ancestral covenant and citizenship in Jerusalem. 
According to him, the covenant of the law was made void through 
sin ; the new eternal covenant, established by God, will have His 
sovereign grace for its sole ground. And the worst sinner, 
Jerusalem, will be the channel of such superaboundiug grace to 
the cities of the earth, and thus to her own deep humiliation 
become their spiritual mother. 

Ezek. xvii., the allegory of the cedar of Lebanon, i.e. the house 

of David, contains the judgment on the faithless vassal Zedekiah, 

who relied on Egypt, instead of remaining true to his liege lord, 

the Babylonian king. But the history of this cedar concludes 

with honourable exaltation, as vers. 2224 testify: 

xvii. 22. "Thus saith Yahveh, Lord of all: And I will take 

from the leafy crown of the high cedar and set from its 

highest shoots I break off a tender one, and I plant it on 

23 a high and exalted mountain. On the lofty mountain of 
Israel I will plant it, and it shall bear leaves and form 
fruit, and become a splendid cedar, and all birds shall 
nestle under it, every winged thing shall dwell under the 

24 shadow of its branches. And all the trees of the field 


shall learn that I am Yahveh, and lower the high tree 
and exalt the low tree, I make the sappy tree dry and 
the dry tree shoot forth. I, Yahveh, have said and perform 

The Chaldsean eagle has carried away the crown of the cedar 
into the land and city of merchants (Babylon). But exaltation to 
universal rule awaits this exiled kingly house in the future. 
What God does stands in plain antithesis to what the Chal- 
dfean eagle did. God exalts the humbled. From the lofty cedar 
transplanted to the lower country, still lofty in the dignity 
belonging to it in God's sight, the Lord breaks off one of the top- 
most twigs, the highest in dignity which that house has borne, the 
production of which was its destiny ; and this sappy green twig, 
still tender, but full of divine vital energy, He plants carefully 
on a high towering mountain, on the mountain heights of Israel, 
to which it belongs. The prophet is here thinking chiefly of the 
high-lying abode of Israel (xxxiv. 14), whose country towers 
above Babylon as Israel above the nations. But this does not 
preclude the supposition that in the " high exalted " mountain the 
future Zion more specifically floated before him (xl. 2 ; cf. Isa. 
ii. 2 ; Micah iv. 1), since even within the land of Israel the cedar 
takes a commanding position. There the twig, diminutive at first, 
will grow into a powerful tree, under which all the birds of heaven 
seek shelter, a figure of universal rule well known to the Oriental, 
because the tree rules what it shelters, and everything resorts to 
the shadow of this tree. 1 Ver. 24 states still more definitely that 
all kingdoms (trees) will acknowledge the superiority of this ruler, 
and of his God who humbles the high and exalts the low king- 
dom. The high sappy tree, the humbling of which is the Lord's 
work, refers here chiefly not to the future state of Israel, but to 
the world-empire, at present powerful, whose humiliation is 

Consequently Ezekiel also foretells a new birth of the Davidic 
house, which will again rise through one twig from the very ground 
and attain universal dominion, as in Isa. vii. 14 ff., ix. 5 ff., xi. 1 ff. ; 
Micah iv. 1 ff. The low condition, out of which this dominion 
rises, to his vision is the Babylonian exile. That Zerubbabel, 
the twig transplanted back from Babylon to Zion, did not 
exhaust the meaning of this prophecy, is clear ; for the univer- 
1 Cf. Ezek. xxxi. 6 ; Dan. iv. 7 ff.; Matt. xiii. 31 f.; Mark iv. 31 ; Luke xiii. 19. 


sally acknowledged authority here ascribed to him never belonged 
to him. 

Before Ezekiel's prophecy could unfold the coming redemption 
without hindrance, God's judgment had to take effect on Jerusalem. 
During the long investment of the city the prophet was dumb. 
In the gap in his book thus arising he has intercalated (chaps, 
xxv. xxxii.) the oracles on foreign nations belonging in part to a 
later time, and foretelling judgment on these nations, the exalta- 
tion of Israel being at the same time brought into conjunction 
with their humiliation, xxix. 21. The shattered horn of Israel 
(Lam. ii. 3) will again sprout, a reference to power in general, 
not to the Messiah specifically ; l and the harassings of the foe on 
every side will cease, Ezek. xxviiL 24. 

With the fall of Jerusalem, announced in chap, xxxiii., the 
second chief part of the book begins. As Ezekiel traces every- 
thing to the Lord's grace as its ultimate ground, and to the divine 
honour as its supreme end, so in particular he insists that the 
happy change now commencing is grounded not in any superiority 
of Israel, but solely in the holy name of the Lord, which will 
again be honoured (xxxvi. 22), and in His mercy, in virtue of 
which He wills not the death of the sinner, but that he repent 
and live (xxxiii. 11). In chap, xxxiv. the Lord sets Himself to 
gather anew His smitten, scattered people. This discourse moves 
in a circle of thoughts of the future already sufficiently known to 
us from earlier prophets. The wicked prophets, already charac- 
terized in Zeeh. xi. and Jer. xxiii. 1 ff., are rebuked, because they 
have neglected and mercilessly plundered the flock. The Lord 
Himself, so He declares, will now gather and feed His sheep 
(xxxiv. 11 ff.). In a closer specification of His government a 
human shepherd next appears in His place, who will be a worthy 
representative of God, namely, David, in the sense of Jer. xxx. 9. 

xxxiv. 23 f. " And I raise up over them one shepherd to feed 
them, MY SERVANT DAVID, who will feed them and be their shep- 
herd. And I, Yahveh, will be their God, and my servant David 
a prince in their midst. I, Yahveh, have said it." 

That it is altogether contrary to the prophetic style of thought 
and speech to find here a reappearance of the dead David has 
already been observed (p. 336). But they do too little justice 

1 So, on the other hand, Ps. cxxxii. 17. The primary passage is 1 Sam. ii. 1. Yet 
the T]^, Ezek. xxix. 21, refers, according to xxiv. 27, to the prophet. 


to the definite personal stamp of the prophecy who would see a 
collective in it and in Jeremiah's righteous Sprout. 1 The one 
Shepherd, whom the Lord calls with delight His righteous Servant, 
is he in whom David's virtue will be perfected to the salvation of 
His Church. This perfecter of the Messianic idea stands before 
the seer's gaze in personal unity, and the ideal image must be 
left thus, otherwise it loses in grandeur. Already, in xxi. 32, 
Ezekiel tore the falsely assumed Davidic crown from the head of 
the reprobate Zedekiah, which crown perishes until He come to 
whom it belongs by divine right. 2 This will be One, who is not 
merely of David's blood, but has his God-fearing, God-trusting 
mind ; according to this passage the true David, whom the Lord 
acknowledges without reserve, and under whose rule the over- 
flowing abundance of the land, promised long ago by the prophets, 
will appear and be enjoyed in undisturbed peace (xxxiv. 25-31). 
Ezek. xxxvi. 2 5 ff., where the oracle of xi. 1 9 f. recurs in 
enriched form, gives us a most profound glance into this state of 
untroubled peace with God. To the shepherd whom God 
approves, a cleansed and sanctified Church will correspond ; for 
when the Lord delivers His people from bondage, He will also 
redeem it internally : 

xxxvi. 25. "And I sprinkle upon you pure water, for you shall 
be PURE from all your pollutions ; and from all your idols 3 I 

26 will cleanse you. And I give you a NEW HEART, and a NEW 
SPIRIT I put within you, and take away the stony heart out 

27 of your body and give you a fleshy heart. And my SPIRIT I 
put within you and make you to walk in my statutes and 

28 keep and do my laws. And you shall dwell in the land that 

1 So, e.g., Schrader in Schenkel's Bibellexikon, ii. 253 f., according to whom the 
hope of a personal Messiah cherished by Isaiah and Micah was extended by Jeremiah 
and Ezekiel to the whole Davidic dynasty, these two prophets thus forming the 
transition to the exilian Anonymous one, Isa. xl.-lxvi., where this expectation gives 
place to a still more general one, namely, that the ideal people of God itself 
as ' ' Servant of Yahveh " will partly introduce the Messianic salvation, partly itself 
share it. 

2 " Until he comes to whom the government (J3B5^!9, as in Hos. v. 1) is due. and 
to whom I give it." On the allusion to Gen. xlix. 10, see p. 120. Cf. also Delitzsch, 
Messianic Prophecies, p. 83. 

3 D^l^S) verv often in Ezekiel as a contemptuous designation of idols ; cf. Baudis- 
sin, Studien, i. 95 f. This passage favours the interpretation ' ' dung-heaps, " ' ' dung- 
gods," rather than the one which makes it mean " blocks." Cf. the closely-related 
passage, Zech. xiii. 2. 


I gave to your fathers, and you shall be to me a people, and 

I will be to you a God." 

This announcement of what the Lord will do to His people is 
parallel to that of Jer. xxxi. 31 ff. If there a new covenant 
was spoken of, here a complete remoulding of God's relation to 
His people is promised, which is carried out in such a way that 
the Church's inmost nature is transformed by a miraculous act of 
God. More plainly than in Jeremiah two things may be here 
distinguished: cleansing or justifying (ver. 25), and positive new- 
birth through the Spirit of God (ver. 26 f.), in consequence of which 
the people will henceforth be both able and willing to keep the 
divine commands. In the former respect the Lord will sprinkle 
His Church with pure water, i.e., as in Zech. xiii. 1, provide it 
with effective means of expiation, 1 to set it free from the defile- 
ments cleaving to it. No Levitical ceremony can do this in 
adequate manner, no human asceticism atone for these offences. 
The Lord Himself must sprinkle this impure people. But with 
one such cleansing His work would only be half done. He will 
also create an entirely new and holy life in His Church. The 
human heart, the source of all volition and inclination (Deut. 
xxx. 6), of all desire and effort, is unfit for God's service (Gen. 
viii. 21), as Israel's whole history shows. It is just as unrecep- 
tive to the divine as inclined to all evil. The spirit that rules 
men is impure, sinful. God will give His accepted people a new 
heart, related to the former one as flesh to stone, i.e. instead of a 
heart hard, stubborn, unreceptive, one sensitive to God's word and 
will, receptive to all good, or as Jeremiah says, like a soft table 
on which God can write His holy law. And the new Spirit that 
is to fill these receptive hearts will be God's Spirit, who impels 
to the keeping of the divine commands. Here Jeremiah, who 
speaks of a transforming of the divine law, and Ezekiel, who 
speaks of a new creating of the human organs, beautifully supple- 
ment each other. That the Lord may be able to write His law 
in men's hearts, the hearts themselves must be radically changed. 
In order to this end a fresh, creative act of divine grace is 

Here the prophet, who has been accused of superficial Levitical 
externalism, displays insight of extraordinary depth, insight 
putting him on a level with Jeremiah as a true evangelist in the 

1 Cf. p. 351 on this metaphor. 


Old Covenant. He shows us the sole-sufficiency and all-sufficiency 
of divine grace in that work of God, from which the new Church 
will proceed. Every individual member of it is born again of 
water and spirit; else he is unable to stand before the holy God 
and render the required obedience. The ^EIV n ^ of Jeremiah 
here undergoes a wonderful expansion. Although the outward 
bliss, which is the fruit of this inner work of grace, is presented 
under 0. T. limitation (xxxvi. 28 ff.), the act of grace itself, from 
which peace with God springs, is seen with divine clearness and 
also in grand divine unity, a clearness and unity which it has 
not always been easy even for evangelical Christendom to hold 
fast. That " the Lord our righteousness " does not mean merely 
" the Lord our justification," but also " our right-doing, our sancti- 
fication," that the latter also is not our work, to which "gratitude" 
is enough to impel us, but the fruit of God's wonder-working 
grace this N". T. truth, revealed already to Ezekiel, has not 
everywhere received its due in Church doctrine, and, moreover, 
has been far too much overlooked in the Protestant Church. 

The restoration of God's people is further pictured to us in 
Ezek. xxxvii. That people has now entered the state of death 
already foretold by Hosea; 1 only by a resurrection of the dead 
can it be recalled to life. But the Lord is a God with the power 
and will to do this. This is shown to the seer in a splendid 
vision, xxxvii. 1 ff., where he sees a plain sown far and wide with 
mouldering bones. The Church of the Lord is not even to be 
compared to a corpse, but consists merely of disjecta membra, of 
scattered, mouldering bones, an which representation chap, xxxvii. 
gives a commentary. According to this explanation, the purpose 
of the whole lies not so much in announcing the bodily resurrection 
of buried members of the Church, as in promising in the most 
definite terms the raising of the Church out of its present state 
of outward dispersion and inner estrangement from God, a work 
to human appearance utterly impossible. Its present state 
cannot be described in too hopeless terms. It is one of utter 
corruption. But from the buried relics of His people, the Lord 
will again raise up to Himself a countless Church. Thus it is 
certainly declared that He can call even the dead to life. If 
the prophet had not attributed such power to God, he could not 
have believed in the revivifying of the holy nation. This is 

1 Hos. vi. 2, xiii. 14 f. ; cf. pp. 238-240. 


implied in the form of vision deliberately chosen. The vision 
refers prophet and people to the God who is able to raise the 
dead, and consequently to reanimate the people, now mouldering 
in all lands, by His creative Spirit in all its members, and bring 
them together again. Only here the emphasis does not fall, as in 
Isa. xxvi. 19 (p. 303), upon the idea that the true members of the 
Church, dead in a physical sense, rise again to life on earth, though 
this is certainly not excluded, and is suggested by the description 
of the rising again of the individual " slain." The chief thing 
here is, that God's people, forsaken of the spirit of life, is revivified 
by God's higher Spirit (xxxvii. 14), and again occupies its land. 

Chap, xxxvii. 1 5 ff. then combines what has been foretold of 
God's " Servant " David with what is said of the Church, 
xxxvi. 25 if. The kingdom of Israel- Judah, again united under 
one prince, will, after its redemption from captivity, represent in 
every respect what has ever been God's will in respect to it : a 
nation richly blessed, among whom God has taken up His abode 
for ever, ruled by His righteous Servant David who has taken 
possession of it permanently, and, in virtue of the divine cleansing 
and sanctifying, well-pleasing and absolutely obedient to the Lord. 

Of peculiar importance also is the picture of the attack, which 
Gog of the land of Magog makes at last on faithful Israel that has 
long returned from captivity, and of the judgment smiting him 
and expanding into the general judgment, Ezek. xxxviii. f. The 
description of this Gog shows plainly that the Scythians are in the 
prophet's mind, those northern barbarians, distinguished by their 
rage for plunder, whose enormous hordes of horse, especially 
skilful at the bow, had not failed by their attacks to make a deep 
impression on the Israelites (from about the year 630). 1 With 
this agrees the fact that Magog is thought of as found on the 
northern horizon (xxxviii. 15, xxxix. 2), and Gog, a name occur- 
ring only in Ezekiel as the name of the king of Magog, is called 
prince of Eosh, 2 Meshech, and Tubal, by which are meant northern 
populations on the Pontus Euxinus. These ideas are not sharply 
defined either in a geographical or ethnological respect. The 

1 See particulars in Herzog, Real-Encycl. v. 263 ff. 

* xxxviii. 3. t^fcO is scarcely an appellative, along with WVI : chiff prince (Chald., 
Syr., Aqu., Jer. ; Ewald, Smend), but likewise the name of a people on the northern 
Taurus, Gescnius, Thesaurus, p. 1253. Meshech and Tubal are the ancient Moschi 
and Tibareni. 


conception of Magog, viewed in the passages cited as extending to 
the farthest north, was as elastic among the Israelites as the idea 
of the " Scythians " among the ancient Greeks. But this is note- 
worthy, that from the barbarians of the north, hitherto scarcely 
visible on the world's stage, a world-convulsing movement will 
proceed, when the empires now figuring in history have succumbed 
to their doom. 

Moreover, Gog, who comes rolling on like a thunder-cloud, 
not merely carries along with him, in his . fury, the entire north 
(the Persians, Gomarites, and the house of Togarmah, with all 
their satellites following in his train), but also sweeps away the 
peoples of the extreme south Cush and Put, Ethiopia and 
Libya l in his terrible violence, which is finally directed against 
the harmless people of God in Canaan. We have here, then, a 
final rising of the whole world against Yahveh and His people, in 
which the nations hitherto veiled in obscurity, whose power 
is not yet broken at the end of the days (xxxviii. 16), will step 
into the foreground. Then the general judgment announced 
long before by the prophets is carried out on them, the Lord 
unloosing all the powers of destruction upon the nations 
who invade His inheritance. Earthquake, sword, pestilence, 
hail, fire, and brimstone slay the invaders in masses, and also 
devastate their home (xxxix. 6). So vast is the host slain on 
Israel's mountains that its weapons furnish wood for seven 
years' burning, as the drastic account of ver. 9 f. says. By this 
destruction of the foe Yahveh gains honour ,in the eyes of all 
the heathen, and proves that Israel's fall and banishment were a 
punishment imposed on it by its God, whereas now He preserves 
His sanctuary inviolate. 

Thus what Zech. xiv. saw in conjunction the judgment on 
Jerusalem, and that on the world of heathen nations are 
separated in Ezekiel. The judgment on the city belongs already, 
in his view, to the past ; on the other hand, what the prophets 
had long before said about an ineffectual storming of Jerusalem 
by the heathen is still to come. To it the " Day of the Lord " 
will join on. In the allusion to those prophecies (xxxviii. 17, 
xxxix. 8), Ezekiel is certainly thinking chiefly of Joel (iii. 2, 
9 ff.), and this reference supports the earlier date of Joel's 

1 These stand, of course, by way of example. Cf. xxxix. 6, where the "islands" 
are mentioned as the corresponding western region. 


prophecy. Joel had mainly in view the nations engaged in 
conflict with Israel ; Ezekiel sees the nations of the farthest 
zones drawn into the conflict between God's kingdom and the 
world-power, and fighting it out. Meantime Joel's vision lias 
been taken up by other prophets, Micah iv. 1 1 ff. ; Zech. xii. 
2 ff., xiv. 3 ff. In Ezekiel, this general tempest has reached its 
widest geographical extension. The Revelation of John (xx. 7 ff.) 
also gives to what he saw a range going far beyond the Old 
Covenant. The Church of Christ has yet to endure that last 
assault of the heathen. After the thousand years' reign of 
Christ and His Church on earth, Satan, bound so long, is once 
more unloosed, and leads the nations from all the four ends of 
the earth, to a final assault on the holy city. This threatening 
power of the last days is there called " Gog and Magog ; " it is 
destroyed by fire from heaven, after which follows the new- 
creating of heaven and earth, and the new Jerusalem descends 
from heaven to earth. 

Ezekiel closes his book (chap, xl.-xlviii.) with a picture of the 
purified city of God, of the temple principally, where God's 
majesty now dwells permanently, and whence the fountain of 
blessing pours life and salvation upon all the country round. 
What renders this passage unique in 0. T. prophecy, and makes 
it difficult for our theological consciousness to enter into 
it, is the detailed completeness of Ezekiel's style. Whereas 
the other prophets sketched the Church of the last days, the 
glorified temple, Jerusalem, Canaan, by characteristic touches on 
the bright fringe of their circle of vision, in which the filling 
up could be conceived according to the hearers' or readers' 
standpoint in 0. T. concreteness or N. T. spirituality, Ezekiel 
here unfolds before their eyes a thoroughly finished picture of 
quite uncommon breadth, a rigid architectural plan, defining the 
future temple with special distinctness, and ordaining its forms of 
worship with the precision of a lawgiver. What picture is 
this ? Is it the Jerusalem of the time of restoration that here 
presented itself to his prophetic vision with historic fidelity ? 
For this the form is too ideal ; the relations described by him 
are too perfect to allow us to see in his picture a representation 
beforehand of the redeemed Church of Zerubbabel and Joshua, 
or of Ezra and Nehemiah, that was afterwards realized his- 
torically. Or is it the perfected Jerusalem, the eternal city of 


God ? For this, again, the relations are too limited, too speci- 
fically Jewish. We must say, however, that in the prophecy 
hitherto considered, even in the oracles of Ezekiel, there are 
elements which do not find expression to their full extent in 
this architectural plan framed after the Mosaic pattern. 

The twofold character of the picture, by which on the one hand 
it exhibits the hitherto existing in unattained purity and per- 
fection, and on the other hand is able to exhibit the future only 
as a purified and improved form of the previous commonwealth, 
is to be understood from Ezekiel's calling and position. The 
temple was fallen, the theocracy overthrown, Yahveh's wondrous 
institutions of law and grace in His temple on Zion had ceased. 
This was a heavy blow to the theocratic consciousness animating 
every better Israelite. Was the rule of God among His people, 
and on earth, at an end ? Ezekiel beheld the opposite on 
the day of the overthrow of Jerusalem, fourteen years after the 
fall of the temple (xl. 1). Then he discerned in spirit the new 
temple standing on a very high mountain. This feature, and 
especially the temple-fountain swelling into a river, shows that 
the whole is more than a new architectonic plan for the building 
of God's house, or a new revision of the law on the restoration 
of the State. It is a prophetic vision in which the temple and 
Church of the future are presented in glorified form. But, on 
the other hand, these detailed descriptions of the temple-walls, 
doors, chambers, etc., are of such a kind that they yield a real 
architectonic whole, of which a complete plan may be drawn at 
least as well as of the Solomonic or Herodian temple. 1 

In the same way the encampment of the twelve tribes, who 
are all quartered on this side Jordan, and the organization of 
national worship, while influenced by ideal conceptions, are also 
practically arranged and deliberately framed in every point. 
The reasons are evident why the old Mosaic Torah is partly 
departed from, whilst the old demands of the law are still 
asserted against abuses that have crept in (cf. xliv. 7 f.). 

It is Ezekiel's peculiarity, not to picture the days to come 
in general outlines, but thoroughly to enter into and appro- 
priate such anticipations of the future, both in inward and 

1 This has been shown by Thenius, J. F. Bottcher (Proben A. T. Schrifter- 
klarung, 1833, p. 218 ff.), J. J. Balmer-Rinck, Des Propheten Ezechid Gesicht vom 
Tempel, 1858 ; R. Smend, Commentar zu Ezechiel, 1880. 


outward respects. Hence he does not simply foretell the re- 
erection of the temple and holy nation, in whose midst God will 
take up His abode for ever; but this perfect restoration of 
God's house, in which nothing that ever belonged to it will 
be lost, is carried out before his eyes to the least minutire. 
In this process, indeed, the 0. T. limitation asserts itself 
more strongly than in the prophets elsewhere ; while often 
transcended in spirit, it cannot permanently be overcome by 
the existing power of conception. In great measure the picture 
is only a prophecy of the true consummation of God's kingdom, 
in so far as the Mosaic cultus is so also. Here, where prophecy 
sketches the concrete shape of. the future Church, it falls back 
into the typical. It is a description of God's perfect residence 
in the imperfect, figurative language of the Old Covenant. Cer- 
tainly attempts have been made by artificial means to crane up 
this picture and its separate features to the height of the 
N. T. revelation, by putting a spiritual meaning into every- 
thing ; l or the outward fulfilment has been claimed for the 
future, on which view even, the institution of bloody sacrifices 
must again be logically ascribed to converted Israel. Eeally 
neither the one nor the other view corresponds to the teaching of 
the New Testament, which, while adopting the essential features 
of Ezekiel's picture (Rev. xxii. 1 f.) in describing the perfected 
city of God, omits all limitations of a national and local cha- 
racter. Thus the form which Ezekiel's vision assumes is only 
explained by the circumstances of his age, which, as the prophet 
was informed, had to expect a new establishment of the Mosaic 
temple-service ; and this blended, to the eye of the seer, with 
the introduction of God's perfected presence among His people. 

As Moses once saw the pattern of the tabernacle, so here the 
prophet sees the model of the new temple altogether in the 
sacred, expressive style of the old one, but in still greater sim- 
plicity, purity, and perfection of form. Just so the admini- 
stration of the temple, the distribution of space among the 
tribes, and of privileges among the orders, are seen by him in 
Mosaic fashion, only with a more complete carrying out of prin- 
ciples. The essential distinction of this temple is that the 
ylury of the Lord takes up its abode in it for ever. 2 The 

1 So Hengstenberg and Kliefoth, Das Tempelgesickt Ezechid's, 1865. 

2 Ezek. xliii. 1 if., 9, xlviii. 35. 


secular power comes little into notice ; it lies in the hand of a 
prince (^^), of course of David's house (xvii. 22, xxxiv. 24); 
but the Anointed of the Lord does not appear in personal pro- 
minence ; only domestic authority and law is exercised, having 
nothing of a priestly character (xlvi. 1 ff.). 

The inwardness which still constitutes the soul of this 
picture so outward in character, comes out most strongly in the 
description of the temple-fowtitain that waters the whole land, 
giving it fertility and health, chap, xlvii. It is an extended 
description of the fertilizing, cleansing fountain that springs on 
Zion, already known to us from Joel iii. 18; Zech. xiii. 1. 
According to Ezekiel, it bursts forth from the threshold of God's 
house at the eastern entrance, turns aside south of the altar of burnt- 
offering in the forecourt, and so finds its way to the wall, under 
which it flows. A thousand ells' distance from the wall its water 
is still not a foot high, a thousand ells farther it reaches to 
the knees, a like distance again to the loins> to become finally 
a powerful river, too deep to wade through, a glorious image of 
the way in which this salvation becomes ever mightier and 
richer the farther it penetrates into the world. On the two 
banks of the living stream grow shady trees, bearing fresh fruit 
every month, and leaves that cure every sickness. The Dead 
Sea also is healed by the flood of life pouring into it, so that 
fishers find large catches on its shores. Certain marshes only 
are left to remind of the former barrenness. But clearly as 
this transformed physiognomy points to a new spiritual creation, 
we ought not to adopt this interpretation forthwith, and 
least of all allegorize the particular traits, e.g. understand the 
fishers of the fishers of men, Matt. iv. 18 f. (Hengstenberg), or 
of the angels (Kliefoth), the trees of righteous men (Kliefoth), 
etc. Eather the image stands before the eyes of the seer in 
concrete reality, apart from all interpretation. A land endowed 
by the Lord with altogether new forces of blessing, a paradisaic 
garden of God, in place of former sterility such is the fit 
surrounding of the temple. It will be a delight to live in the 
Lord's land ; even the heathen will be made welcome there, and 
permitted to acquire landed possessions (xlvii. 22 f.). 

What of the fulfilment of this whole vision, Ezek. xl.- xlviii. ? 
Delitzsch calls it a prophecy that remained unfulfilled, because 
the two kingdoms of Israel did not turn to God in true penitence, 


and did on returning from exile greet Him with their first love ; 
and certainly in this case the nation would have witnessed a far 
more glorious renewal of the theocracy and of prosperity in its 
land. At all events, the reason why the prophecy could not be 
fulfilled in its literal terms lies in its peculiar character, in the 
interweaving of eternal ideas and temporal, passing forms that 
distinguishes it. The final form of the divine presence could not 
be of this kind. According to the prophet's own words, a new, 
more perfect covenant of grace must come, no longer needing the 
mediation of salvation by priestly, Levitical apparatus and the 
former means of divine revelation. 1 So far as the description of 
God's dwelling in the midst of His people given by Ezekiel 
belongs to the shadows of the old legal covenant, it is abolished 
with that covenant. Hence this book is a standing exhortation 
to Christian theology not to regard the letter of prophecy, apart 
from its spiritual import, as the essential and eternal part ; while 
it should be a proof to the Jews of the changeableness of the 
letter of the Torah, since Ezekiel puts himself to a certain extent 
in contradiction to the latter. 2 So far, on the other hand, as the 
Lord's dwelling on earth has not yet been perfected in visible 
reality, this vision points to the future, even as it was taken up 
again by N. T. prophecy in essential points. What features in 
'Ezekiel's picture will be found in the city of God that is to be 
seen hereafter on earth (Kev. xxi.), what on the other hand belong 
only to the perishing image, can only be perfectly and incontest- 
ably made clear when God's perfect kingdom is revealed. 

39. The Prophecies of the Servant of Yahveh, Isa. xl.-lxvi. 

The promise of Ezekiel, speaking to us out of the time of 
exile, receives an exceedingly rich supplement from a prophetic 
book, likewise originating in the seven decades of captivity, and 
indeed in their closing period the time between the opening of 
the victorious career of Cyrus and the fall of Babylon, although 
it is now joined to the Book of Isaiah (note A). 

1 Cf. with Ezekiel's description of the temple, Jer. iii. 17 ; Rev. xxi. 22. 

* The differences between Moses and Ezekiel have caused the Rabbins great 
distress, and led them in some degree to attack the canonical dignity of the latter. 
Cf. Mishna, Schabb. f. 13, col. 2 (ed. Surenhus. ii. p. 5) ; J. G. Carpzov, Inlrod. ad 
}'. T., iii. 214 ff. 


The prophet appears towards the end of the exile. The 
incredible has happened. The apparently unconquerable world- 
power, Babylon, sustains one defeat after another from a stronger 
One who rises up against it. Then Israel is summoned joyously 
to observe what is transpiring, For God, who is now showing 
Himself so much greater in power than the idols, will redeem all 
His promises. Redemption draws nigh. The new spring of life 
and love, already foretold by Hosea, is at hand. A sacred year 
of grace, bringing universal freedom, dawns (Ixi. 2). Not for 
the merits or excellence of His people (xliii. 22 ff.), but, as 
former prophets have already insisted (Ezek. xxxvi. 22), for His 
own sake, for His name's sake (xliii. 25, xlviii. 9), the Lord will 
succour His own. He comes Himself to lead His people (xl. 1) 
from captivity through the desert to desolated Zion. Already 
one hears in the desert the voice of His heralds, who prepare the 
way for His glory. He comes, bringing to the city of Zion as a 
precious gift the reward of His work a redeemed people, whom 
He leads homeward with the loving care of a true shepherd. 

These features of the coming redemption, appearing already in 
chap, xl., run through the entire book. 1 Eemembrance of the 
deliverance from the first captivity in Egypt, whence the way 
lay through the desert to Canaan, gives the keynote. As there 
the Lord revealed Himself most gloriously in the desert, so now 
also His glory, which had departed from Zion, will appear there 
and return thence : " And the glory of Yahveh is unveiled, and 
all flesh shall see it together; for the mouth of Yahveh has 
spoken it " (xl. 5). The barren, pathless desert will not merely 
be levelled, the road becoming easy, 2 but will be changed into 
well- watered garden-land, 3 as Isa. xxxv. already foretold ; which 
vision, now nearer fulfilment, expands before the eyes of our 
prophet into rich variety of detail. 

Plainly as the account reveals the fatherly care of the Lord, 
who leads His people on a level, easy road through pleasant 
pastures, still the metamorphosis does not refer merely to a 
momentary, physical easing of the march of the home-going 
pilgrims ; but the prophet everywhere with plastic symbolism 
makes his picture utter spiritual truth. The levelling of the 

1 Isa. xl. 3 ff., 10 ff., xliii. 1 ff., lii. 9 ff., Iv. 12 ff.; cf. Ix. 4, 8 ff. 

2 Isa. xl. 4, xlii. 16, xlix. 11, Ivii. 14. 

3 xli. 17 ff., xliii. 19 f., xlviii. 21, xlix. 9 f., Iv. 13. 


country through which the Lord's host marches, the lowering of 
the hills and filling up of the valleys, like the drying up of 
impassable rivers, 1 presents the thought first, that all hindrances 
opposing the Lord's coming are easily swept aside by Him. All 
the powers of the world 2 cannot hinder His advent. He so 
transforms the earth that His glory can be displayed on it. At 
the same time the Elijah-voice, xl. 3 ff. (cf. Mai. iii. 1), is an 
exhortation to a moral and spiritual preparation for His coming ; 
proud minds and spirits are to humble themselves deeply before 
the revelation of the Most High, whilst bowed and oppressed 
hearts will revive (Ivii. 15). 

A deeper intention is j,ust as evident in the descriptions of the 
change of the desert into the garden of God, into paradise. In 
Iv. 13 it is expressly said that this blessed metamorphosis of the 
landscape is not a transitory but an abiding one, as an eternal 
monument of divine grace. Thus God's present revelation will 
leave in the word a miraculous track along the whole of the 
way it has taken, a track of fertility and blessing such as springs 
from God's gracious presence. The desert will enpy this blessing 
in the fullest degree. But this is true also in another sense. 
Not only are Zion and its neighbourhood at present like the 
desert, not only therefore do they need a transformation which 
they will experience in glorious form (li. 3- ; cf. Ixi. 4) ; but in 
the plastic freedom and spiritual animation of these prophetic 
conceptions the state of the nation itself, above all its spiritual 
state, is compared to a desert watered by the Lord with blessing 
from above and turned into a scene of joyful growth, xliv. 3 ff., 
Iviii. 11 f. Such life-giving bounty (cf. Iv. 1 f.) as is promised 
to the holy land and people, certainly cannot point to material 
prosperity only ; but as this revival is out and out of higher 
origin, so the life resulting therefrom is one permeated by powers 
of divine grace and hallowed by the Divine Spirit. This is most 
beautifully shown in xlv. 8 : 

" Drop, ye heavens, from above, and let the clouds trickle with 
well-doing. 8 Let the earth open and salvation blossom and make 
righteousness shoot forth at once I, Yahveh, have created it." 

1 xliii. 16, xliv. 27 ; cf. li. 10. * Cf. the heights, xli. 15, xlv. 2. 

3 P"1V passes in this prophet from the fundamental meaning of normal conduct 
to that of divine favour and grace (pp. 243, 335), cf. xli. 2, xlii. 6. The heavens rain 
divine goodwill, and thus educe from the earth a healthful harvest of human well- 


Thus the conception of faithful guidance through the desert, 1 
and that of the redeeming of the desert-Church from its abject 
condition, constantly interchange. The latter idea ensures a 
deeper meaning to the former one. Even the captivity, from 
which the Lord will deliver His people (li. 14), is not the mere 
outward bondage in which Babylon holds it. It is bound in a 
darker prison by its own guilt, benighted by its own blindness, 
enslaved by its own ill-conduct. These captives are in fact kept 
in bondage by the guilt they have heaped up by sinning against 
their God (xlii. 22, 24). They pine away in darkness, because 
with eyes to see, in their unreceptiveness to the divine they are 
blind where they ought to behold the wonderful ways of the 
Lord. 2 What hinders them walking with firm step is their moral 
bondage, their sins being their chains. 3 Hence the Lord must 
needs speak a redeeming word to set them free in every aspect. 4 

Who is God's instrument in effecting this deliverance ? This 
question takes us to the main idea of the book. The outward 
deliverance, indeed, Cyrus will accomplish ; 5 but the incomparably 
greater and more difficult work of spiritual redemption another 
must perform, the Servant of Yahvek, whose form here emerges 
more and more out of obscurity in new and mysterious dignity. 

The nation of Israel had been designed by the Mosaic covenant 
to serve God (Ex. iv. 23 ; cf. p. 128), to be His peculiar people, 
obediently rendering Him the service He desired on earth. 
Hence the greatest distinction is for God to call Israel " His 
Servant," as in Jer. xxx. 10, where it is said that it shall belong 
to no master but its rightful lord. On this broad national basis 
stands the Deutero-Isaianic idea of the Servant of the Lord, as 
xli. 8 ff. (cf. xliv. 1) proves. There the Lord with tender good- 
will addresses Israel-Jacob, the seed of His friend Abraham, as 
His chosen servant, and assures it of His assistance in all weak- 
ness (xli. 14). By this means it will rise victorious above its 
foes and crush to pieces the proud mountains and hills of the 
world, after God has redeemed and refreshed His poor, despond- 
doing. npTV must not, on account of the parallel yjj>\ be weakened into "pro- 
sperity " and the like, but is the ethical fruit of that bestowal of grace ; cf. Ps. 
Ixxxv. 11 ff. 

1 That the desert also is not to be confined to a mere literal meaning, is shown 
by xlix. 9, where the people itself is the flock feeding. 
" 2 xlii. 7, 16, 18-20, xliii. 8, xlix. 9. 3 Cf. lix. 9, 10. 

4 xliii. 8, xlix. 9, lii. 2 f., Ixi. 1 ff. 5 xliv. 26, 28, xlv. 13. 


ing people. Chap. xliv. 1 ff., xlviii. 20, return to the same breadth 
of conception. " Servant of the Lord " is Israel's official name, 
stamped on it by God's love as a cJiaractcr indelebUis. Hence it 
not only bears the name where in the light of God's grace it 
appears as His actual instrument, but even where its unfitness 
for such an office comes out most strikingly, xlii. 19. 

But just as little ought it to be overlooked that in 0. T. usage 
this title of honour is usually assigned to individuals, namely, to 
the greatest instruments selected by God for His service. 1 And 
indeed Moses, the deliverer of the nation from Egyptian bondage 
and mediator of the Sinaitic covenant, is called nirv nay far the 
oftenest, and in the prophetic promises the Lord calls David with 
special preference I^V, "My Servant." 2 This idea, like that of 
Son of God originally given to the whole nation, and first fully 
developed in the Lord's Anointed, tends toward personal con- 
summation. Such is the case in Deutero-Isaiah in a striking 
manner. Although he starts from the vocation of the entire nation 
to be God's servant and recurs to it as an inalienable office of 
Jacob-Israel, yet in his view, as soon as he begins to speak more 
precisely of the work of redemption and the instrument chosen 
for it, the bearer of this office assumes personal definiteness : 
xlii. 1. " Behold MY SERVANT, whom I uphold, mine elect one, in 
whom my soul delights ! I have laid my Spirit upon him, 

2 that he may bring out right to the nations. He cries not, 
and makes no noise, 3 and causes not his voice to be heard in 

3 the street. A bruised reed he breaks not, and a glimmering 
wick 4 he quenches not : assuredly 5 he will bring out the 

4 right. He will not faint and break down 6 until he establish 
right on the earth, and the isles wait for his instruction. 

5 Thus saith God Yahveh, who created the heavens and 
extended them, who spread the earth with its products, who 
gave breath to the people upon it, and spirit to them that 

1 Compare the way in which in the New Testament the apostles assume the title 
3a?x 'I*TOU Xftfnu as the highest distinction, Jas. i. 1 ; Jude ver. 1 ; Rom. i. 1 ; 
Phil. i. 1, etc. 

* Isa. xxxvii. 35 ; Jer. xxxiii. 21 f., 26 ; Ezek. xxiv. 23, xxxvii. 25. 

3 That {<b*3 is meant of ostentatious noise, is plain from the context without 

reference to the following i?ip. 

4 The dull, slow -burning flax-wick, in which the oil is failing. 

5 Properly, according to the rule of fidelity, truly and infallibly. 

6 p-p from pyi, as in ver - 3. 


6 walk on it. I, Yahveh, have called thee in righteousness 1 
and grasp thine hand, and guard thee and make thee a 

7 covenant of the people, a light of the nations, to open 
blind eyes, to bring captives out of prison, out of the house 
of bondage them that sit in darkness." 

The figure here presented to the gaze of the seer is the instru- 
ment which the Lord uses to accomplish His great redeeming 
work ; and in the description of the medium we learn more 
definitely in what the work consists and how broad its range. 
Now not a ruler in God's name is needed, but a Servant of the 
Lord ; for the work cannot be accomplished without the deepest 
condescension, while he to whom it is entrusted must be a 
Servant of the Lord absolutely, One in whom the Lord can feel 
an unqualified delight, and whom He has endowed with His 
Spirit in full measure. Thus he is enabled with perfect spon- 
taneity and divine illumination to carry out His mission, which is 
to impart divine light to the far-off heathen. At the same time 
He will not shout His doctrine in the market-place of the 
world, nor force it on any one with violence. Conscious of its 
mighty truth, He lets His word operate quietly and secretly in 
those who are not among the eminent of the earth, the lights of 
the world, or its professed saints. He addresses Himself to the 
obscure, dull, and desponding, whom He does not overwhelm 
with strong words and rob of the last spark of courage, but con- 
firms by rekindling their glimmering light of faith. And whilst 
He breathes strength into the feeble and faint, He Himself is not 
exhausted by His wearing labour ; and His Holy Spirit fails not 
until He has finished His blessed, world-embracing toil. 

The method of His working is the Word, which He preaches. 2 
The content of this word is on one hand the making known of 
God's will, the divine law (B> : p and rnin, cf. Isa. ii. 3), which the 
heathen here need not come to Jerusalem to obtain (as in Isa. ii. ; 
Micah iv.), but which is brought to them by the true Servant of 
the Lord to enlighten them. But at the same time this divine 
word is in particular a word of grace, in which the Lord's 
gracious will toward all nations, and pre-eminently toward His 
people, is revealed. Hence the unostentatious Servant, so kind 

1 p"l again in the sense of Deutero-Isaiah : in good disposition, i.e. divine 

2 Cf. Isa. xlix. 2, 1. 4 f. 


to the feeblest, is its chosen bearer. It was God's favour (ver. G) 
that called Him to His work and destined Him to be " a cove- 
nant with the people, a light to the heathen." Alongside trta, 
oy could only apply to Israel, 1 even if xlix. 6, 8, did not 
imperatively require this reference. And in this case the sense 
can only be that God uses His Servant as a means for restoring 
the covenant with His people. In Him the divine covenant 
with the latter will be concluded, even as the enlightening of the 
heathen is His work, who also obtain a part in God's revealed 
grace. According to xlix. 6, 8, the Servant of Yahveh will be 
the instrument for again establishing, like Moses and Joshua, the 
holy nation and settling it in its land. This passage shows most 
clearly that the people and the Servant of God are here 
distinguished ; the latter is the subject, the former the first and 
principal object of the redeeming work. And this is also clear 
from the whole discourse respecting the God-accepted Servant of 
the Lord, xlii. 1 ff., compared with the description of the people, 
xlii. 18-22. The latter is the blindest of all peoples, most 
deeply involved in darkness. Hence more than all it needs 
healing by the -Servant, which is also emphatically promised to 
it, xlii. 7, xlix. 9. At all events ihis Servant of Yahveh appears 
here as a single personal figure in contrast with the people 2 
whether the figure represents a 'plurality, may be left open at 
present. He is one who in His being and action really fulfils 
Israel's vocation, which is now set forth in unprecedented grandeur. 
The nation, to which the vocation properly pertains, is so little 
adequate to it, that instead of being able to bring salvation to the 
heathen world, it must itself first receive salvation. The first and 
greatest work of the true Servant of God will be done on Israel- 
Judah, now far from God and -sunk in spiritual wretchedness. 

At the beginning of the second main part of 'the book, xlix. 1 ff., 
this Servant of Yahveh, ideal and yet contemplated in historical 
and personal concreteness, Himself begins to speak without any 
preface. His testimony to Himself, like that in Ixi. 1 ff., forms 
to some extent a more detailed parallel to the testimony about 
Him in xlii. 1 ff. As there He was in a sense introduced and 

1 It makes no material difference if we translate : "to be a covenant of a (whole) 
people." In this case also Israel is meant.! 

2 The apostrophe : " Israel " (my chosen one), interpolated, xlii. 16, in the LXX., 
is therefore out of keeping ; it would have to be understood as in xlix. 3. 


described by God, so here He presents Himself addressing His 
words directly to the heathen, for which we are already prepared 
by what was said there : 

xlix. 1. "Listen to me, ye isles, 1 and hearken, ye nations from 
afar. Yahveh called me from the womb, from my mother's 

2 lap he mentioned my name. And He made my mouth like 
a sharp sword, in the shadow of His hand He hid me, and 

3 made me a polished arrow, in His quiver He hid me. And 
he said to me : My Servant art thou, Israel in whom I will 

4 gain glory. But I said : ' In vain have I wearied myself, for 
nothing and again nothing consumed my strength.' But my 

5 right is with Yahveh, and my reward with my God. And 
now saith Yahveh, who formed me from the womb to be His 
Servant, to bring Jacob back to Him and that Israel may be 
gathered and I have been honoured in Yahveh's eyes and 

6 my God was my strength and said to me : ' It is too little 
that thou art my Servant to establish the tribes of Jacob 
and to bring back the preserved of Israel, and so I have set 
thee for a light of the heathen, to be my salvation 2 to the 

7 end of the earth.' Thus saith Yahveh, the Eedeemer of 
Israel, His Holy One, to him whose soul is despicable, the 
abhorred of the people, to the slave of rulers : ' Kings shall 
see and arise, princes, and fall down for Yahveh's sake, 
because He is faithful, and because the Holy One of Israel 

8 has chosen thee.' Thus saith Yahveh : ' In a time of com- 
placency I hear thee, and on the day of salvation I help thee, 
and I defend thee and make thee the covenant of the people, 

9 to establish the land, to distribute desolate heritages, to say 
to the captives : Go forth, to those who are in darkness : 
Come to the light ! ' " 

Here, too, the first impression is that of individual personality. 
As Cyrus, before he knew, was chosen by God to be an instru- 
ment in carrying out a higher plan (xlv. 3-5), so has the Lord 
called by name (i.e. in a personal capacity) and specially equipped 
His true Servant from the womb for a far more glorious and 

1 On this designation of the distant heathen-world, a favourite one with Deutero- 
Isaiah, see p. 318. 

- Such is the most natural sense of the words, viz. that the great Servant of God 
is called the salvation as well as the light of the world (Delitzsch, Nagelsbach). 
Gesenius, Hitzig, Knobel, Ewald otherwise : "that my salvation may be," etc. 


spiritual work. And this organon, with which God intends to 
glorify Himself, despite the martial images used concerning him, 
is not like Cyrus a military leader, but a depositary of spiritual 
force, as is evident from His mouth being called an elect weapon. 
His word therefore is the sharp, world-conquering sword, 1 the 
smooth, heart-piercing arrow, with which he will accomplish 
great things in God's service. 

Thus his work will be that of a prophet, and of course will 
infinitely transcend the limits of what any prophet before had 
done. Because of this passage it has been thought that the 
prophet is here speaking of himself, somewhat like Jer. i. 5, and 
consequently claims to be himself the " Servant of the Lord." 2 
But even in this section (apart from chap. liiL) this supposition 
is untenable. As little as the author can say of himself what is 
said in xlii. 1 ff., and boast that the isles wait for his instruction, 
so little can he there and here assume the monstrous position that 
not only will Israel receive its covenant from him, but also the 
heathen their light, while princes will do him homage. More- 
over, the name Israel so contradicts this view, that Gesenius is 
forced to expunge it in xlix. 3. 

This name compels us to recognise in the person addressed 
Israel's ideal representative, i.e. him in whom the relation into 
which God desires to enter with Israel is perfectly realized, and 
through whom the world-wide vocation assigned to that people is 
fully carried out. Once more, that the Servant is not identical 
with Israel, is confirmed to us here by exactly the same circum- 
stance that we observed in chap, xlii., but which comes out, if 
possible, still more strongly here, namely, that the Church of 
Israel to be converted is, on the contrary, the object of the 
Servant's toilsome labour, as ver. 5 f. shows unmistakably. It 
needs to be delivered and led faithfully home by the Servant of 
the Lord not only in an outward but in an inward sense. When 
through God's strength He has happily discharged this task, a far 
greater and more glorious one is reserved for Him, namely, to 
establish the kingdom of God over the whole heathen world. 

And as in chap. xlii. the faithful, Spirit-filled Messenger 
appeared in obscurity and without reputation in this world, so 
that He was only sustained on His difficult course through the 
world by a secret miracle of divine strength, so we see Him now 

1 Cf. Heb. iv. 12. * So Gesenius in the wake of Kimchi and Ibn Ezra. 


doing His work in contempt and shame, apparently without 
success. According to His human judgment, He sees no fruit at 
all of His toil ; yet in the Lord He is certain of His reward and 
draws from Him new strength. And as certainly as God is faith- 
ful, and will not leave His chosen one to defeat, so certainly will 
the path of this His true representative lead through deepest 
dishonour to glory. Now He is personally despised, mocked by 
the common people, treated with sovereign caprice by the holders 
of power. One day they will stand, nay, fall down, before Him 
with reverence, when they see whose ambassador He is. We see 
plainly that, much as His prophetic calling stands in the fore- 
ground, the significance of the Servant of Yahveh is not 
exhausted in it, but that He is the heir of the entire mission of 

And as the path of all Israel lies through bondage to freedom, 
through shame to glory, as in particular the Lord's faithful 
servants a David, for example have taken this path, so must 
he who completely fulfils Israel's vocation, taste pain and shame in 
fullest measure. None of the true prophets have been without 
suffering as the badge of the genuineness of their mission ; by 
their martyrdom they stamped the seal of attestation on their 
word. Thus Jeremiah's whole course was one long martyrdom : 
and in the exile it was the most faithful on whom hate and 
persecution fell most heavily. 1 So, according to the view of the 
great prophet, who now speaks of redemption, this aspect could 
not be wanting in the image of the true Eedeemer. He is quite 
absorbed in this image of the genuine witness of God in servant- 
form, speaking again in 1. 4 ff., and once more in Ixi. 1 ff. from 
his very soul, of his life of testimony and suffering. 
1. 4. " Yahveh, Lord of all, has given me a disciple's tongue, 2 
that I may know how to comfort the weary with words ; he 
awakens every morning, awakens my ear to hear after the 

5 manner of disciples. Yahveh, Lord of all, has opened my ear, 

6 and I have not resisted, not drawn back. My back I offered 
to the smiters, my cheeks to the pluckers (of hair), my face 

7 I have not veiled from revilings and spittle. And Yahveh, 
Lord of all, helps me, therefore I am not affronted, on this 

1 Cf. Isa. li. 7, Ivii. 1. 

2 "Tongue of the experienced, instructed, able to speak well," as the ear of a 
disciple is accustomed to pay good attention, ver. 4. 



account I made my face like flint and know I shall not be 
put to shame." 

As little as the personal description here suits the indocile 
people (xlii. 18 ff.), so easily may one recognise in it a faithful 
prophet such as Jeremiah. Only it would be improbable in 
itself that such a prophet would so praise his own fidelity. 
.Rather here, also, the prophet gives a description of his ideal, 
whom he would fain imperfectly imitate. He weaves into the 
image the greatest features of his prophetic models, but is far 
from confounding it with himself. 1 

The Servant of God, here again the perfect prophet, possesses 
in highest measure the two attributes which are the most 
important requisites in every true prophet (p. 4). He is trained 
to speak according to the Lord's will, and indeed his mission is in 
particular the comforting of the despairing and helpless that 
'most humble yet most blessed duty of a messenger of God. And, 
again, he is willing to hear when God speaks ; without resistance 
he receives the divine word, which he will appropriate, enjoying 
every day the intercourse of a true disciple with God. From this 
second attribute follows of itself the third, willingness to accept 
in the service of the divine word the shame and abuse always 
falling on the preachers of divine truth and on this Servant of 
the Lord in special degree. He does not shun the grossest 
assaults and reproaches, conscious that enduring them is part of 
his office, and that neither his strength, which is spiritual and of 
divine origin, will be weakened, nor his honour, which is internal 
and acknowledged by the Lord, will be sullied thereby. Thus he 
whose heart is so full of feeling for the need and suffering of men 
is altogether passive under the assaults showered upon himself. 
He knows that he has to bear them for God's sake. 

If in chaps, xlix. and 1., in comparison with chap, xlii., the low- 
liness of the faithful Servant appears in more intense form, the 

1 Also in Ixi. 1 ff, where the decision respecting the person of the speaker depends 
in our opinion on the explanation of xlviii. 16, we cannot, with Targ. , Calvin, 
Grotius, and most moderns, regard the prophet as speaking of himself, although 
there can be no doubt that the vocation of the author and that of the Ebed Yahveh 
stand in close connection. The former is quite absorbed in his ideal pattern, which, 
of course, must take quite another form, as he knows, than is the case with himself. 
Perhaps the key to the anonymous character of the book lies in this absorption on 
the author's part in some higher ono. The speaker wishes, not himself, but the 
Servant of Yahveh to be heard, the voice of the approaching Redeemer. 


contradiction between divine greatness and deepest human 
humiliation found there reaches its climax in the next section, in 
which his image is presented to us, lii. 13 liii. 12. A new dis- 
course begins in lii. 13. It is not indeed unconnected with the 
foregoing ones. Chaps, li. and lii. 1-12 spoke of the transition 
of God's Church from the shame of captivity to honourable 
freedom. But now the Servant of the Lord also is called to take 
this path through shame to glory, and He in the highest potency. 
And as we saw above, that in assuming Israel's office he 
exercises it first on his own people, so here it appears that just 
by the heavy suffering which he undergoes he brings them 
deliverance from suffering. But for this very reason it is a 
notably different stage at which the seer now stands, lii. 13. 
What he said of Zion's redemption- morn after the night of 
suffering is seen by him now in glorified form in a higher sphere, 
where the imperfect gives place to its true archetype. In the 
place of that many-headed, self-willed servant of God enters the 
one true, pure Servant of the Lord, whom we have seen as the 
instrument of divine grace to the whole world, absolutely and 
perfectly obedient, entirely given up to the will of God. If the 
Church of God has to traverse its course per crucem ad lucem, 
now before Him who is the perfect representative of divine 
fellowship in servant-form there opens a whole abyss of suffering, 
from which He will emerge all the more gloriously. And the 
imperfection of God's suffering Church, whose sufferings are not 
unmerited, becomes a high-priestly diadem on the head of Him 
who without sin must drink the bitterest cup of suffering and 
death, since He bore it all merely for the sin of the Church. The 
suffering of the Just One for the salvation of the guilty is the 
deepest humiliation laid upon Him by God, and at the same time 
the most glorious distinction that God will reveal in Him. 

Chap. lii. 13-15 forms the prelude of the section. It contains 
in general terms the main thought of the wondrous exaltation of 
one who was humbled beyond precedent. 

lii. 13. "Behold, MY SERVANT will act wisely, 1 will ascend and 

14 arise and be very high. Like as many 'were startled at 

thee so disfigured from man was his look and his appear- 

1 Wise dealing is implied as well as good success. 7>3JJ7I is often used like 
H vi'H In any case praise is implied, cf. p. 333. 


15 ance so unhurnan, 1 so will he make many nations start up ;' J 
kings shall shut their mouth at him, for what was not told them 
they have seen, and what they never heard they have learnt." 

It is the Lord who here speaks, foretelling the destiny of His 
Servant. Despite all appearance to the contrary he will have a 
good end, the good issue which he deserves, and of which he 
was confident in his God. If he was unspeakably humbled, his 
position at last will be all the higher. In the same degree in 
which he was the object of speechless horror, nay, unconquerable 
aversion on account of the unhuman fate he endured, in the same 
degree will he attract astonishment and reverence in his exalta- 
tion. Men will be unable to contain themselves at the divine 
honour falling to him. And not only his countrymen, but the 
nations outside will start up in admiration to behold the glory 
revealed in him ; kings will testify their homage to him by 
reverential, adoring silence (cf. xlix. 7). For it is a deep, 
marvellous, incomparable mystery, whose unravelling by the Lord 
surprises them, when the Servant of Yahveh stands before them 
at the end of his way and work. What is then unveiled to their 
gaze is something unheard of, the like of which is not found in 
the whole world's history. 

The connection with liii. 1 is close, inasmuch as the discourse 
liii. 16 also refers to that future, in which the heathen admire 
the exalted Servant of the Lord. Only it is not these who 
speak, 3 but the Jews who will then have learnt the truth. They 
heard indeed of the Lord's plan, and beheld His work long ago, 
but with deaf ears and blind eyes. Hence now that the veil has 
at last been taken from their eyes they accuse themselves, saying 
(to the heathen world ?) what follows in vers. 1-6 : 
liii 1. " Who has given credence to our report ? And the arm 

1 }3, 146, is only subordinate, referring to VDO{J>'. Ver. 15 first gives what cor- 
responds to IK'KD- " Disfiguring from man was his look," means : " He was so 
disfigured by ill-usage that he could no longer be recognised as human." 

* rrjn is not here to be taken as a Levitical expression : to sprinkle, in which case 
we should expect $>y as well as miss the parallelism and sympathy with the close of 
ver. 15 ; but it is to be referred with most moderns to flfj : < spring, lead bad; 

therefore hiph. : to make spring up. 

* So indeed D. Kimchi, who makes the heathen say: "He has borne our sick- 
nesses," and in this way seeks to make the identification of the Sen-ant with Israel 
possible. The ^y, liii. 8, among other things, is decisive against this view. 


2 of Yahveh, to whom was it revealed ? He grew up before 
him like a tender shoot, and like a root-sprout out of dry 
ground. No form had he and no grace, that we should look 

3 on him, and no beauty that we should desire him. 1 Despised 
and forsaken of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with 
sickness, and like one before whom one veils his face, 2 

4 despised, that we should not esteem him. Nevertheless OUR 
sicknesses he bore, and OUR sorrows he took them on himself. 

5 But we regarded him as one judged, 3 smitten of God and 
tormented. But he was pierced for our sins, bruised on account 
of our misdeeds ; the penalty of our welfare lay upon him, 

6 and by his wound healing came to us. 4 We all, like sheep 
we strayed, we walked every one in his own way, but 
Yahveh made to fall on HIM the guilt of us all." 

Coming nearer to the mystery, the prophet makes Israel speak 
and tell what it has witnessed and now learned for the first time 
at the end of God's ways. It has to confess that the news of the 
Lord's wondrous intention to reveal Himself most gloriously 
through the most lowly of men, came to its ears through His 
prophets, but found no credence at its hands, that it witnessed 
God's dealings in its midst, the aim of which was salvation, but 
did not understand them. The questions, ver. 1, require the 
answer : No one gave credence to the marvellous tidings of God's 
patient servant, no one recognised the arm of the Lord working 
mysteriously in that instrument ! 

He, in whom the highest, most blessed revelation to Israel and 
the heathen world lay wrapped up, appeared in obscure and 
lowly form. He made no show, like a tree overshadowing the 
land (cf. Ezek. xvii. 23), as one might expect, but was rather to 
be compared to a bare lowly shoot which, springing out of the 

1 In ver. 2 the chief distinctive athnach should stand under V"1X"U1> which is 
nsed in the sense of 3 n&O : to gaze with pleasure at something, as also ntf"lO 
means " pleasing appearance." 

2 "IPlDE. not part. (="one who veils his face before us in sorrow, shame, on 
account of impurity "), but nomen verbah : " veiling of the face before him," is One 
before whom one veils his face. 

3 Jft33> smitten by God's scourge or plague. yjj especially means the leprosy, 
which, as is well known, was regarded as God's judgment, a sign of the divine dis- 
pleasure in a special degree. 

properly bandage, then wound, cf. i. 6. The niph. stands in the 

" healing came to us by means of his wound, accrued to us therefrom." 


root, rises but a little above sandy soil, and so lives a wretched 
existence a description challenging comparison with Isa. xi. I, 1 
and the oracles of the "< nos. Thus the elect " Servant of the 
Lord " had nothing attractive externally, nothing to indicate his 
unique pre-eminence and the preciousness of the blessings he 
brought. Therefore the people of his country and age in their 
superficiality were completely deceived as to his nature and 
worth by outward seeming, they regarded him as of no account. 

Nay, they despised and abhorred him, for he not only looked 
uninviting to the ordinary mind, but even offensive and terri- 
fying, as ver. 3 affirms; not indeed through harshness of nature 
or unfriendliness of disposition, we heard the opposite in chap, 
xlii., but on account of the harsh fate with which God and men 
visited him. He was a martyr-figure, whose extremity of pain 
and suffering estranged the people from him, not merely because 
no one could see a deliverer and helper in a Son of man afflicted 
with evil beyond all others, but also because the plagues heaped 
upon him awakened the suspicion that he was an evil-doer 
chastened and branded by God's scourge, one of those unhappy 
ones from whom we avert our gaze as if the mere sight of them 
were defiling. 

Vers. 4-6 reveal the deep mystery surrounding the sufferer. 
His suffering has a unique character. It turns not to his shame, 
but to his people's salvation. He bore the punishment belonging 
to the people, i.e. due to it, so that in sheer blindness it quite 
mistook him and condemned him. Observe the emphatic 
antithesis marked everywhere here by the pronouns (separata and 
suffixa). What belonged to us lie bore, and we imputed it to 
him. The speakers, who knew him, of course did not recognise 
him, thought him so heavily visited by the hand of the Most 
High on account of his demerit and misdeeds. 2 But his terrible 
visitation was only punitive in so far as he endured the punish- 
ment due to them the foolish judges. 

The penalty of our welfare (B^), i.e. here : of our impunity, 
lay upon him. This affirms most definitely, that he endured t/ic 
chastisement, through whose endurance by him they themselves 
go unpunished, an explanation again confirmed to superfluity 

1 There also the figure was chosen to set forth the Imclines* of the Messiah, p. 278. 
* Observe in ver. 5a the strongly passive participles expressing the violent character 
of the judgment. 


by the addition : " By Ms wound healing was effected for us!' 
That there was a burden of guilt lying on the whole people, and 
every member of it, needing to be cancelled, is shown in the 
confession, ver. 6, in which plainly the entire Church says, that 
it had forfeited salvation by its sins. As little as sheep, left to 
themselves, remain in the straight road, so little have they kept the 
divine path of righteousness. Without exception they have 
gone, every one at his own will, their self-chosen ways of error, 
and thus destruction must have overtaken them, unless the Lord 
had made the guilt of all fall as a penal infliction on the alone 
Just One. 

Thus has the righteous Servant of the Lord, as the Church of 
the Lord which he saved saw and confessed at last, suffered for 
its sake. It ought never to have been denied, that here vicarious 
expiatory suffering on the part of the Just One for the unjust is 
the subject. No exegesis can ever get rid of this thought, 
expressed here as plainly as human language can put it, and 
repeated from ver. 4 to the end of the chapter in the most 
emphatic way. The solution, then, of the dark riddle presented 
by the form of the devout Sufferer is this, that he bears the 
sufferings of others, viz. the sufferings which they have incurred 
by their sins, but which they are to be spared according to God's 
decree, because the Just One has taken their place. This is the 
extraordinary tidings, the wondrous secret, which they whose 
welfare was at stake did not see and believe, so that they 
wickedly mistook and harshly condemned the Holy One who 
suffered for them, as they afterwards sorrowfully confess. 

With ver. 6 this confession, put into the mouth of the con- 
verted Church of Israel, comes to an end, as Ewald rightly 
saw. The prophet himself now recounts, ver. 7 ff., the wondrous 

liii. 7. " He was ill treated, whilst yet he humbled himself 
willingly, and opened not his mouth. Like the sheep that is 
dragged to the slaughter and the lamb that is dumb before 
8 its shearers, so he opened not his mouth. From prison and 
judgment he was taken away, 1 and among his generation 
who is concerned ? 2 For he was cut off out of the land of 

1 rip? has here a sinister meaning as in Prov. xxiv. 11. Like our "leading 
away " (to death), it is used almost euphemistically of fetching for execution. 

2 "in, not to be confounded with yti, posterity, is rather=&oc?y of contemporaries. 


9 the living, for the sin of my people he was afflicted. 1 And 
so they gave him his grave with the evil-doers, and with the 
rich his hill of the dead, although he committed no violence 

1 and no deceit was in his mouth. But Yahveh was pleased 
to bruise him by loading (him) with sickness : 2 when thou 
shalt have made his soul a guilt-offering, he will see posterity, 
live many days, and what pleases God will prosper by his 

1 1 hand. Out of the travail of his soul he will see, be satisfied, 
by his knowledge will my righteous Servant justify many, 

12 and their transgressions he will take on himself. On this 
account I will give him a portion among the great, and 
with the strong he shall divide spoil, in lieu of his having 
poured out his soul unto death and let himself be reckoned 
among sinners, whilst he yet bore the sin of the multitude 
and made intercession for sinners." 

It is now seen more definitely, that the despised Sufferer does 
not sink under the burden of affliction laid on him by God, 
but that the rejection and condemnation of his generation 
grew into gross ill-treatment (cf. 1. G) of the condemned one, 
which he accepted with lamb-like patience without complaint 
or reply. This willingness which, without cursing the unjust 
tormentor, surrenders itself to the penalty of unmerited 
suffering and death, discerning its higher necessity, is an 
essential element in the sacrifice offered by the Servant to the 

But such gross injustice, perpetrated on the defenceless one, 
was not all. Ver. 8 shows that he was taken through every 
form of trial and declared guilty of death. By a flagrant mis- 
carriage of human justice he was " led away " to the place of 
execution, without any one remonstrating or reflecting on the 

DS we take as preposition, as in vers. 9, 12 (Knobel, Delitzsch differently) : " Who 
in the company of his contemporaries considers it ? " Answer : "No one troubles 
himself about it." Usually it is joined to the following ifjj 13: "Who considers 
that he was cut off ? " but the rhythm in brief measures does not allow this. 

1 1D^>, *' tn d- = ^>, as in xliv. 15. See p. 99, note. 

* "6nn, not a determined noun (Hitzig), nor yet a Syriasm for r6nn (the majority), 
1'iit according to Klosteimann, Delitzsch, hiph. N^Hn (cf. 2 Chron. xvi. 12), where 
the last letter is not written on account of the tf with which the next word begins, 
as in 2 Kings xiii. 6. The inf. is more precisely defined by this jinititm. "What 
goes before shows that no ordinary sickness is spoken of. The sufferings which 
men cause him appear in God's plan as sickness inflicted on him. 


frightful injustice thereby perpetrated. 1 The prophet repeats 
more plainly what can scarcely be uttered : " He is violently 
hurried out of the world," like a criminal defiling or dangerous 
to mankind, whereupon the prophet is constrained once 
more to disclose the true cause of this shameful death : 
" for the sin of my people this divine penalty was executed 
on him." The prophet is certainly the speaker, and under- 
stands by ^y those who in ver. 5 said WWBi?, his people 

Thus it came to pass that he was treated as a gross sinner 
up to the grave, as ver. 9 adds : " His grave was assigned him 
in the company of evil-doers," an insult which the Hebrew 
feels keenly (cf. Jer. xxvi. 23). But the second clause is obscure. 
In accordance with its pointing the Masoretes understand vnfoa : 
in his death. We should then have to understand the certainly 
rare plural of rno (only found again in Ezek. xxviii. 10), not of 
different cases of death, but of death struggles, dying agonies, which 
the rich noble, who parts from his mammon with difficulty, must 
feel keenly. 2 But serious doubts present themselves against this 
reading. The pains of death come in strangely after the burial, 
and the second member lacks syntactical compactness. We 
must therefore read Wtea after some codices, in the sense of 
" sepulchral hill." 3 The plural is the main argument of those 
who would understand the Servant in a plural sense. But it 
would be strange in the highest degree for the prophet, who 
preserves the strict unity of the person both before and after, 
here suddenly to split it up and to speak of one grave but many 
sepulchral hills. Rather the plural seems here to denote burial- 
places more generally. A second difficulty consists in the 
synonymous use of "WV alongside B"W"]. It is not allowable to 
assign the former word a signification quite different from the 

1 In Isa. Ivii. 1 there is a similar reference to the indifference of the people to the 
death of the just man, but there his end is described as a removal from judgment. 
Wisd. iv. 10 alludes to this passage, the early death of the just man there also 
conducing to his preservation. The descriptions of Wisd. iii.-v. generally refer to 
Deutero-Isaiah, without comprehending its deepest import. 

2 It is untenable to suppose an antithesis between the first member and the second : 
" but with the rich man (he was) in his death," as many current expositions do. 
Nor does this view supply a direct reference to the history of Jesus, since He, on 
the contrary, died with evil-doers and was buried with the rich man. 

3 Ezek. xliii. 7 ; cf. also Job xxi. 32, where certainly another phrase is used. 


usual one (Hitzig). Still through the juxtaposition and the close 
of the verse it easily obtains an evil qualification, which, more- 
over, is not very remote from it according to Hebrew modes 
of conception ; it is one who has become rich through oppression 
and fraud, whose hill of sepulchre is cursed by the poor who have 
suffered from him. Thus also the grave of the Just One is 
regarded after his innocent death. His burial-place is not 
passed without cursing ! And yet no trace of the sins justly 
visited with such punishment was to be found in him, as is 
again testified. 

Thus before his death, nay, during the whole of his earthly 
existence (the rest of the grave included), he received no recom- 
pense for the grievous injustice done him. And yet such 
recompense will be given him in ample degree by God's decree, 
which is to the effect, that the life of this noblest and poorest 
One will furnish a sacrifice for sin ; and afterwards he will 
live many days and rejoice in a numerous posterity. The 
discourse here passes altogether from the prophetic vocation 
of the "' 13$, described previously, to the priestly office he 
administers in giving himself to a sacrificial death for the salva- 
tion of his people. This is the deepest ground and most glorious 
design of his suffering. The Lord Himself 1 designed His life 
to be an offering for sin, plainly for the offences of the people, in 
compensation for the obedience which the people had failed to 
render. For the character of the BK'N is that of a compensatory 
sacrifice (note B). Only the thing in question here is not, as in 
the Levitical law, a particular omission easily atoned for, or 
occasional, unintentional offences against God. Eather here a 
compensatory sacrifice of the highest kind will be seen, in which 
all the guilt of the Church will be outweighed by one peerless 
act the willing surrender of the Just One to death. Since 
he does not give the compensatory sacrifice, which is ever a 
satisfactio, for himself, a satisfactio vicaria is here implied, which 
again ought never to have been denied. 

This path of heaven-appointed self-sacrifice even to death 

1 &VF\ is best taken as 2 sing. masc. an address to God. If it is taken as 3 sing. 


fern., "when his soul shall lay down an offering for sin," the object (himself) is 
wanting. Reuss and Scholten would take QX as a negative particle of asseveration : 
" thou verily wilt not," quite perversely and in contravention of everything tho 
prophet has insisted on from ver. 4. 


conducts the obedient Servant to life and bliss. 1 Although he 
died unvindicated, and apparently without hope, this cannot be 
the end. In this very path he will obtain posterity, plainly 
the spiritual Israel, that owes its life to him, is meant, and see 
it with his own eyes, rejoicing just as much in prolonged life as 
iu numerous descendants. How it can be possible for one who 
was hurried off by a violent death in the midst of his days to live 
surrounded by many children, the prophet himself can scarcely 
explain. Enough that an inner necessity, such as we found in 
Job xix. 25ff. (p. 184), shows this to be God's plan ; and the 
prophet is confident that the counsel of the Lord will prosper in 
His (God's) hand, will come to a happy result. 

Ver. 11. The fruit of his sufferings will be for his own good 
and the good of many. He himself will see delight in it. 2 
Here and in ver. 1 emphasis is laid on " seeing " in the sense of 
Job xix. 26 f. His best recompense is that he is the living, 
actually present witness of the work of salvation which he has 
accomplished. Thus his coming to life again is certainly pre- 
supposed. The fruit accruing to others is this, that through his 
knowledge, his wise surrender to God's will, he is to many the 
medium of righteousness, such as he himself enjoys and they 
have hitherto lacked. He brought about this right relation 
between them and God by taking their offences on himself, and 
bearing them in their stead. 

Ver. 12. After this heroic act, the most blessed ever accom- 
plished, divine victory and honour justly await him. Although 
apparently defeated, he receives a lofty place among conquerors, 
and rich spoil like theirs as a reward for voluntarily emptying 
himself unto death, and letting himself be reckoned among the 
worst and meanest. This only happened, because like a sacri- 
ficial lamb he assumed the burden of others' sin, and interceded 
for them as a priest before God. Thus he receives at last the 
splendid vindication that is his due. 

This whole passional moves in a mysterious twilight. Even 
the language is in part mysteriously obscure, in keeping with the 
profound contents. And apart from disputable details, the entire 

OK implies that the path of suffering will be the condition of a unique 
experience of salvation. 

* JOK* 11 nX'V must be joined closely together ; po has not a privative sense, but 
means "out of the travail of his soul, " i.e. as its fruit he will see what will delight him. 


picture, in which yet many weighty features are sketched with 
thorough distinctness, fits with difficulty into a frame yet to be 
discussed. Is it past or present that the prophet depicts ? Or 
is he painting a future tragedy ? Is he describing realities at all, 
or are they ideal abstractions that occupy him and pass before him 
in such vivid figures? All these questions unite in the one, before 
which the chamberlain from Ethiopia stood without being able to 
decide it a question among those oftenest discussed, and the 
answer to which is most critical : Who is this Servant of Yahveh ? 
And how came the seer to behold him in the form he did ? 

In entering, after our review of the passages involved, on the 
former of these questions, we quote some views which, while 
containing an element of truth, are incorrect, because they fail to 
do justice to the entire greatness and the full details of this figure. 
The most comprehensive theory is the one which identifies the 
" M nay with the nation of Israel. 1 We saw (p. 379) that there 
is a certain warrant for this view, since in fact the nation is called 
Ebed Yahveh, and the Servant is the true fulfiller of Israel's entire 
mission. But it is just as certain that this identification does 
not explain the chief point in question. Not only in the most 
important sections is the faithful Servant ever spoken of in strict 
personal unity, so that a collective can never be seen there ; not 
merely does this image of the obedient, receptive, devoted Servant 
stand in striking contrast to the useless Servant which the Lord has 
in His people ; but we even saw that the Church is first enlightened 
and enfranchised by the prophetic Servant of God, who is easily 
distinguished from it (xlii.), and that the Church needs to be first 
reconciled to God by him, who intercedes for it as priest (liii.). 2 

Some of these fatal objections apply to a second view, 3 to the 
effect that only pious Israel, the better portion of the exiled 

1 So Hitzig and Reuss in the wake of most of the Jewish expositors, Ibn Ezra, 
Jarchi, Kimchi, Abarbanel, the last, however, deciding afterwards in favour of the 
reference to King Josiah. But even Origen (against Celsus, True Word, L i. 55, 
Paris 1733) tells of Jews who quoted to him this exposition of Isa. lii., liii. : "It 
applies to the nation scattered, despised, and ill-used in the world, and yet showing 
itself superior to the nations and converting many." Origen referred them to liii. 6, 
and especially liii. 8. 

2 Cf. especially liii. 8. How can this be said of the contemporaries of Israel, or 
how can the VSi? be understood otherwise than of Israel ? This proof of Origen 
remains impregnable. We seek in vain in Hitzig and Eeuss (Getch. <l. heil. 8chr. 
Alien Testament*, 1881, ii. 434 ff. ) for any feasible mode of evading it. 

3 Maintained by v. Colin, Knobel, Thenius, Anger, and others. 


nation, that had to suffer innocently with the rest, nay, was 
specially exposed to attacks and persecutions by reason of its 
stedfastness, is presented in this synthesis. To this worthy class 
belong, according to Knobel, heads of tribes and elders, priests 
and Levites, as well as the prophets. We cannot, indeed, doubt 
that the sad experiences of many pious servants of Yahveh, of 
course not merely exilian, supplied motives and separate features 
in the origination and working out of this image, as we have 
already insisted (p. 385) ; but that a whole class of the prophet's 
contemporaries as such was characterized by him in such personal 
terms, is quite untenable. Rather the Servant of Yahveh, indi- 
vidual and unique, is put in contrast with the whole body (cf. 
especially liii. 6). The best portion of the nation is not without 
guilt. On the contrary, it is a flock thirsting for salvation, and 
its longing will be satisfied by the faithful Messenger of grace, 
who will also certainly die to expiate its guilt. 1 

A third opinion 2 that would see the prophetic order in this 
docile, patient disciple of God must be rejected, although in 
chaps, xlii., xlix., and again also Ixi. 1 ff., his prophetic activity and 
mission come out so strongly. 3 There the " genuine " Israel is 
seen already to be made up of many different elements ; and, 
moreover, to take the priestly sacrificial lamb of chap. liii. as a 
portraiture of the prophetic order is all the more incongruous, as 
there was no such order in the proper sense. 

Apart from prejudice it is impossible to escape the impression 
that a description so definitely personal cannot be explained as a 
collective. 4 But while it is undeniable that a personal unity 
appears, at least in the prophetic vision, there is still a question 
whether the person is historic, ideal, or belongs to future history. 
In point of fact, a martyr already dead has been thought of as the 
object of panegyric here, e.g. an Isaiah or Jeremiah. 5 But 

1 See also the confessions of Ixi v. 5 ff. (lix. 10 ff.), where the prophet confesses 
himself impure and guilty with the entire Church. 

2 Defended by Gesenius, de Wette, Winer, et al. 

3 Chap. xliv. 26 might be best appealed to in favour of this view, where the 
Servant (sing.) is put in line with God's messengers. But even here the perfect 
prophet is distinguished from the chorus of divine messengers. 

4 Cf. H. Schultz, A. T. Theolofjle (2nd ed.), p. 753 f. 

5 Ewald thought the "Oratorio," xlii. 13-liii., was composed on the solemn leading 
to martyrdom of a great prophet, perhaps of Isaiah. The author of Isa. xl.-lxvi., he 
thinks, found it ready to hand, and incorporated it without material alteration in his 
book. But the piece so obviously grows out of the whole organism of the book (cf. eg. 


chap. xliL 1 ff. is unsuitable as a panegyric of a dead martyr, 
xlix. 1 ff. absolutely so, while lii. 13-liii. would be very strange. 1 
Such a glorifying of the dead is altogether foreign and contrary 
to the sober Hebrew mind, and especially to the unselfish spirit of 

The past nowhere furnished the prophet with this perfect 
image, nor yet the present, although past and present contributed 
to originate and shape it. Nor again is it an empty ideal, for 
sucli things are not at all in the style of the prophets. Rather 
the prophet definitely expected what he saw : a perfect instrument 
of the Most High, who, uniting all excellences of the past and 
passing through its perplexing experiences in full measure, would 
accomplish the work of internal and external redemption. This 
work is the new element announced by the prophet "before it 
springs up." For the rest, in mystic devotion he is absorbed in 
this wondrous figure of whose intrinsic necessity he is certain, 
without the time and place of its appearance being indicated. 

The advance in knowledge here confronting us is extraordinary. 
The sufferings and privations of the period of exile have 
co-operated to this end. They brought clearly out to view the 
noblest and most powerful elements wrapped up in Israel's life. 
Not the outward power of the Davidic kingdom and its prosperous 
development, not the local existence of the ritual was the surest 
pledge of divine life, but that Divine Spirit, who can inspire the 
most unlikely instrument, and who by His mighty word achieves 
the greatest triumphs in the face of outward weakness and resist- 
ance, nay, amid apparent defeat and abandonment by heaven. 
Precisely in its tribulation the true Church of Israel felt itself 
nearest to God, and suffering is seen in it to be the true path to 
glory. David and many psalmists early had experience of this 
truth and deposited votive songs in the temple, proving that the 
righteous man does not, nay, cannot escape suffering, because 
otherwise he will not learn all the greatness of a delivering God 
to his own profit and others' salvation. 2 But in the suffering 
of the Isaianic Servant of God, in distinction from all the 

xlix. 7) that a borrowing of the section in which